THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers
Issue 117, September 2022
Dog of the month: Sydney Brixham Wine Loft, Devon
Camberwell, here we come Peckham Cellars is expanding See page 5
Old problems return for new Winebuyers team Online marketplace faces furious reviews from disappointed customers and a claims of non-payment from suppliers
inebuyers, the online
report ongoing problems with the London-
marketplace, is facing an angry
backlash from merchants
One said: “I’m owed just over £3,500 and
who say they are not getting paid on time
that’s for stuff we’ve sent out over the last
and from customers who say they are not
three weeks. It’s all been dispatched, and
receiving the wine they ordered.
customers have had their wine.
The site works with a number of
“It’s just been a nightmare. They don’t
“I’ve asked them to hold my wines off the site because I don’t want customers to be disappointed in me. The end consumer knows who the wine is being sent by.” Another merchant told us: “I have had problems with them paying me. I’m in my third or fourth month working with them
independent merchants, some of whom
answer their phones, they don’t answer
and the first order that went through I had
have contacted The Wine Merchant to
their email, or text.
to chase them for my payment.
Inside this month
Trustpilot reviewers accuse Winebuyers of non-delivery of wine ordered from website “The second order went through, but I
4 COMINGS AND GOINGS
will have to also chase that.”
Edinburgh merchants expand, and Henley bursts into life
23 THE BURNING QUESTION
Trustpilot reviews paint a grim picture.
£1.6m. The website was bought from the liquidators for £145,000. A Seychelles-registered business,
Some are from suppliers such as Italian-
Ophidian Corp, now holds between 50%
based WeVinoStore. “We have shipped
and 75% of the shares of the Winebuyers
more than 200 orders and got paid for
Group Ltd. Kyle Fordham, representing the business,
Are suppliers being more
only 20,” it claimed. “After that they just
reasonable with minimum orders?
disappear. We were contacted by plenty
rejected claims about late payments to
of other affected ex-suppliers with the
suppliers. “We would need a specific
24 CANCEL CULTURE
same issue. I believe there are a lot of
example of this being the case as I don’t
How indies deal with the vexed
angry customers as well as we’ve stopped
believe it to be accurate,” he said.
problem of no-shows
shipping orders as [we] never got paid.” One customer, identified as Julie Tucker,
On the question of unanswered calls and emails, he said: “Our system monitors all
28 JUST WILLIAMS
said: “Wish I had looked at this site before
inbound supplier communication, both
Why some of us get so
I ordered from Winebuyers! No wine, no
calls and emails, and we have no evidence
argumentative about wine
response – nothing. They have taken the
of this being accurate.”
money but I have heard absolutely nothing
36 BRIGITTE BORDEAUX
and can’t get a response from them.”
Our profile of this enterprising Nottingham wine merchant
Steve Hambleton’s review stated: “Ordered 25/6/22 and never received items, never even had confirmation
46 BEYOND BURGUNDY
Discussing the Winebuyers business model, he said: “We make our revenue by charging suppliers a subscription fee to list and advertise. “One change we have made is the
although it is recorded on their website.
introduction of various new subscription
What options do we have if we
Contacted support twice with zero
packages, and we now have a number of
can’t get hold of the good stuff?
response. I ordered with credit card so
different packages depending on the type
should get the money back. Very poor.”
of supplier listing and ultimately how many
Other reviewers have also reported
SKUs [there are] within their portfolio, but
50 focus on TURKEY Indies should take a fresh look at
contacting their credit card issuers for
the country’s winemaking culture
refunds after struggling to obtain refunds from Winebuyers.
52 make a date
The original Winebuyers site
we do not charge a commission.” When asked to comment on the flurry of poor reviews on Trustpilot, Fordham said: “We had two large suppliers experience
Plenty more tastings to explore as
encountered similar problems in its
difficulties shipping to the UK which
the Christmas run-in begins
dealings with merchants and consumers
resulted in an influx in negative reviews.”
before its owner, Winebuyers Ltd, collapsed in April 2021 with debts of
He added: “We are a small company and continually working to improve.”
THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor: Claire Harries email@example.com Advertising: Sarah Hunnisett firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts: Naomi Young email@example.com The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 1,012 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2022 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 2
Crafting world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley since 1933.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 3
Second Edinburgh shop for Cornelius
for Lindr, which was the system that Graft
Cornelius Beer & Wine in Edinburgh has
wines that we already took that we knew
opened a second store.
recommended. “At the moment we have wines from Roberson on tap as they had a couple of
Most wine merchants will concede that
Owner James Wrobel reports that he’s
taking that leap from one to two shops
been looking for a second premises for a long time. “It’s a pretty saturated market,”
An artist’s impression of the new store
taking it all in his stride.
he says, “and this was the first time that we
“We felt relatively well prepared,” he
found a spot we really agreed on. It’s quite local to the current shop but it is a very different part of Leith and will open us up
can be daunting. Findlater agrees, but he’s
everything the same size on the shop fronts. “One issue is that they don’t want any
says, “but it’s been a massive learning curve. Even things like a stock system that
exterior shutters, so I’ve got to have grilles
works across the two sites … you don’t
The new shop, on Leith Walk, is part of
on the inside, which means I might have
want to reinvent the wheel so it’s trying to
the redevelopment of Steads Redbrick, a
my windows smashed every so often. It
gain efficiencies and maximise the potential.
parade of shops which a few years ago was
should be fine, it’s a pretty good street with
saved by the local community from being
lots of locals, in a very densely populated
deal with a lot of suppliers in London,
knocked down and being replaced by flats.
area of Edinburgh.”
and they’ll ship up, but they only want to
to a whole new customer base.”
“Thanks to vigorous campaigning from
The new shop is about half the size of
“I guess the biggest thing is that we
deliver to one site so there’s a lot of me
the locals, the site is being refurbished and
“the mothership”. Wrobel says: “I’ll start
ferrying it across town. It’s just getting to
restored and turned into a parade of shops
off pretty much replicating what we have
grips with things like that.”
again,” says Wrobel.
at our Easter Road shop. Every community
“We put the offer in January and were
is different and I’m sure over the coming
supposed to get the keys in May and it’s
months I’ll discover what people will want
been really delayed, which is annoying, but
to drink down there and the shop will
it’s not costing me any money at least.
reflect that. I don’t think they will really
“One of the good things about the delay
need the huge amount of Vinho Verdhe and
is that I’ve had plenty of time to get into
orange wines we have [at Easter Road], but
negotiations with the developers. They’re
not giving me any fuss about the interior, but the exterior and all the signage has to vaguely match the rest of the units. They want to keep all the colours muted and
Second Edinburgh shop for S&G
The second shop is based on the original model in Stockbridge, but expanded a little to offer a larger selection for off-
After seven years of trading in
sales. Portobello is similar in size to the
Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Smith &
Stockbridge site but it’s not quite operating
Gertrude has opened a second site a
at full capacity yet.
20-minute drive away in Portobello. Owner Duncan Findlater says draught wine is a popular addition to the new shop. “We’ve got wine on tap so we can offer
The Stockbridge branch
Findlater says: “It’s split into two areas, almost, and there is a private dining room, so it has a lot of potential for events and for doing the book clubs, tastings
quality wines at a really solid price point,”
and collaborations that we already do in
he says. “It feels that, in the years since we
Stockbridge. We’ve just got the bar open
opened at Stockbridge, what you can get
at the moment, but we will get it to the
access to via keg now is amazing and that’s
point where we are opening more regularly
going down really well for us. We went
during the week as well.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 4
Bacchus Peckham Cellars on expansion trail
e-commerce side of the business.
Peckham Cellars has big plans to
using a storage unit down the road.
grow the brand into neighbouring Camberwell. The expansion, which is due to complete
McVeigh adds: “We wanted a dedicated retail site because we have been muddling through, half using the restaurant, half “We’re really looking forward to being able to focus on the retail. It will be sort of a hybrid, but it’s split into two very distinct
early next year, comprises a restaurant,
halves. One side is a wine shop with a
Little Cellars, with an adjacent wine bar
tasting room downstairs and the other side
and store, which will be launched as the
is a small but perfectly formed wine bar.”
Cellar Next Door bottle shop. Co-owner Ben McVeigh explains that when Peckham Cellars opened back in 2019, the focus was hospitality rather than retail. “We never started out to be a wine
Italian specialist has big ambitions Italian specialist Baccello has opened
retailer,” he says. “But as we opened just
for business on the High Street in
before the pandemic we set up a website
and did the whole retail thing, and most people got to know us through that.” McVeigh and his partners, Helen Hall
Owner Yuanyi Li is on a mission to promote Italian wine. “I’ve lived here there and everywhere – Italy, the UK, China,
and Luke West-Whylie, first spotted the
Singapore – and I have the most love for
new premises over a year ago and initially
Italian wine,” he says.
planned to start trading from there last
Li, who used to run a chain of over
November, but things are rarely that
20 sushi restaurants in Italy, is directly
importing around 30% of the wine and
“It’s all a bit complicated,” explains
sourcing the rest from UK distributors,
McVeigh. “The landlord is redeveloping the
but he plans to increase his importing
building so it’s all tied up in a much bigger
plan. He’s been good about it, but there
“I am looking into AWRS as part of my
have been some unforeseen things along
long-term plan,” he says, “but for now, the
wine I import is not for wholesaling.”
The move will allow the team at
Baccello is a hybrid and Li predicts that,
Peckham to “lean into the restaurant a bit
in the first few months of trading, off-sales
more”, although there will still be some
will only account for 20% of business.
wine available for retail. The Camberwell site will also serve as a hub for the growing
“I could be completely wrong with my forecasting,” he admits, “but at Christmas I have a plan in place to do hampers and gifts, so I’m expecting the retail to shoot up to maybe 35%-40%.” Future plans include Baccello own-label wine and possibly more stores to follow. “I’m fairly confident with the model,” Li says. “I think it can be easily replicated so I’m
Ben McVeigh, Helen Hall and Luke West-Whylie
hoping this will be one of many.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 5
Pairing wine and homicide
A “wine and murder escape room” is coming to Manchester Hall in the city in the autumn. The focus of the roaring 20s murder mystery evening will be a party hosted by the fictitious Hawker Wine Estate and its wealthy owners the Von James family. “The celebrations turn sour when a storm of vengeance, lies and deceit ruins the evening,” the bumph declares. “You must stick together, hold your nerve and beat the clock in order to escape Hawker alive”, a scenario that will be familiar to anyone who’s been on one of The Wine Merchant’s buying trips.
Join us in the black hole
No mincing words on the pop-up window on the St Andrews Wine website: “We try and inject a little joy in the horrible black hole that is social media. Please follow us. We promise it will be fun.”
The smell of piano teacher
Jancis Robinson has been on holiday and Tamlyn Currin, deputising for her in The Financial Times, has used the platform to make a case for left-field metaphors in wine descriptions, rightly pointing out that books and wine courses tend to encourage an approach that is “rigid, prescriptive and pedantic”. “My first lesson in metaphor came from Jancis,” she writes. “Back when I was tasked with transcribing tasting notes from her hieroglyphic shorthand, I found myself typing up a tasting note for a 1976 Mosel. It read: ‘Piano teacher’. I knew exactly what she meant. “I had a piano teacher growing up. She was 75 and parchment thin, very strict, always disapproving. I didn’t practise my scales, and my fingers were rapped with a ruler on a regular basis. “The house smelt of potpourri and mustiness. Jancis had added a note clarifying that the term was ‘my shorthand for a smell of macerated raisins and very slightly musty velours’ but it wasn’t necessary. ‘Piano teacher’ said it all.”
Sheffield rivals keep it friendly Sarah Hatton and Virginia Myers, who met while working at StarmoreBoss in Sheffield, have opened their own wine shop in the city under the name Tenaya. “We were sad to leave,” admits Myers, “but they have been very supportive. Barry [Starmore] has already popped in and they’ve all offered help if we need it. There aren’t many wine places in Sheffield so there is room for both of us.” Both shops may be on the same side of town, but topography ensures a significant separating factor. “We’re at the top of a really steep hill,” says Myers. “We are a couple of miles away and StarmoreBoss is right down in the valley. “It seems that people have really been wanting a wine shop and bar here for a while and they’re pretty excited, so it’s great. There is lots of residential nearby and they use this high street. There’s a good mixture of people – long-term Sheffield residents as well as London transplants and people who have stayed on after university.” Tenaya is working with suppliers
including Alliance, Wines Under the Bonnet, Wayward, Flint and Indigo. Myers says: “We’ve got a broad spectrum of wine but we are aiming to specialise in California. It’s just hard to get it at the right price bracket, but we have found some lovely stuff. “We’ve probably got more French wine
Top: Sarah Hatton (left) and Virginia Myers and, below, the store frontage
at the moment. We’re trying to get things that are female-produced and which are
“This will change regularly as we’ve
The pair will also be stocking a “small
female-produced because that can also be
got the whole shop to choose from,” she
spirits range”, which includes Californian
hard to find, but we are trying to focus on
gin and vodka from St George Distillery and
sustainable. Obviously not everything is
those things.” The premises includes a bar area to seat
“It will just give people a chance to try, and of course they can pick any bottle off
tequila from Ten Locks. “We’re leaving the serious spirit sales
about 15 and Myers says there will be a list
the shelf or out of the fridge and drink in
to Jeff [Boss],” admits Myers. “He’s got
of wines available by the glass.
for a small corkage fee.”
everything under the sun.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 6
GIV AD SUPPLIED SEPARATELY
Henley no longer a wine desert Henley-on-Thames has long been in need of an independent wine merchant – and now two have opened within months of each other. July saw the launch of ChinChin Henley, which is owned and run by Adrian Fry, who has already hosted three successful events at the store and has plans for many more. “The first one was super-nervy for me,” he admits. “Although I had done things like that professionally before, this was my first time doing it with wine, but I think I’ve found my feet. They have been really well received and now I’ve got those first-night nerves out of the way, I really enjoy it. “We’re discussing doing a Hundred Hills [the nearby sparkling wine producer] evening maybe a little closer to Christmas. I’ve taken a couple of customers to Hundred Hills for a tasting and we had a really fabulous experience there.” After a corporate life as an HR director, Fry’s growing love of wine got the better of him. He says: “My wife and I have had a coffee shop in Henley for the past year, which has proved really successful, and when the unit next door became available we had a few sleepless nights wondering whether or not to take the plunge.” ChinChin is a hybrid with enough seating Top: An event at ChinChin and, below, the Jacobini interior
to accommodate 12 people. The wine range is broad and evolving and currently has a strong French representation. “I wouldn’t
of other suppliers including Lea &
and we have a curated collection that is
say it’s a specialist area,” says Fry. “But we
Sandeman and Thorman Hunt.
unique because we have connections with
are definitely looking for a quality-to-price
Another independent wine shop,
vineyards in Italy and France.”
ratio and I think there are some really,
Jacobini, opened on Hart Street last
really great wines from lesser-known
month. It’s a collaboration between owner
directly sourced by Hatfield and McGee as a
regions such as Languedoc and the Loire.
John Hatfield, local artist Kirsten Jones and
result of their Italian and French expertise,
wine importer Eddie McGee.
but other countries, notably California, are
“We do have wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy but we are looking outside those
Jones describes Jacobini as “a creative
typical areas. I’m supported very well by
space where people can come and enjoy a
Ruby Willis at Yapp.”
glass of wine, or a bottle”.
Fry is also working with a small number
She adds: “We do free local delivery
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 8
Of the 100 or so lines in stock, most are
also represented. Hatfield is a fan of the enoteca model, so small plates of antipasto and tapas will be served on the premises.
LETTERS Steady as she goes at Vine & Bine Mark Stammers has launched Vine &
Duty reforms Wine trade must redouble efforts
Bine in the Solihull branch of Connolly’s, as reported in last month’s edition of The Wine Merchant. Stammers says owning his own shop was something that had always been a possibility, but it took recent events to make him take the plunge. “I think I’d racked up over 22 years at Connolly’s,” he says, “and when Chris decided he didn’t want to renew the lease it brought things into focus and I decided, rather than getting a real job, I’d do this!” The rebrand may have made customers
Thanks for your considered editorial (The Wine Merchant, August) about the duty reform issue that is plaguing the wine trade but not the pub trade so much. I can see that the draught beer duty discount will be popular and, like you, have seen that the beer lobby has demanded that the reforms be implemented as soon as possible. It was interesting that the interim government decided not to include the reforms in the published Finance Bill 2022-23 draft legislation on July 20, but did add at the end of the statement: “The government are considering the feedback received (from the consultation) and will respond in the autumn”. Your point that the drinks industry is not united on the proposed reforms needs to be a rallying cry for the wine industry to redouble its efforts at this stage and marshal the best arguments and put them to as many MPs as possible before the autumn.
a little jumpy, but Stammers says once they
Once a decision is made either way there is very little scrutiny allowed in the House
came in and saw the familiar faces of the
of Commons and none (as far as I have been told) in the House of Lords.
team (the two other staff members stayed on with him), they were reassured. A month since the handover, changes have been minimal. “There’s not been time to do anything radical,” says Stammers, “and there’s not anything that needed changing, it’s just going to be a case of gradual alterations as the weeks go by. The range will change to reflect more of the interests of myself and the team. “We want to do more with craft beers:
The stongest argument is that, far from simplifying the tax system for wine, the policy would massively complicate it and lead to hugely increased bureaucracy throughout the supply chain. To be honest it is hard enough trying to check that the duty and VAT that is charged against my duty deferment account at the moment is correct, even when it is fairly straightforward to charge. It will be nigh impossible to work out the correct tax if it is based on ABV, both for customs clerks and customers. The increased burden on the system and cost since leaving the EU has been huge (£125 extra per consignment just for import and export declarations – over 200 consignments per annum in my business = £25,000+), with freight agents, hauliers and clerks taking longer to carry out their functions
Adam, the shop manager, is passionate
with the existing post-Brexit regulation changes. I fear we
about his beers. Then there’s the spirits
will look back at this period as simple in comparison to what
range: tequilas, rums and more niche
is proposed if that comes about.
spirits that don’t tend to get well covered
Every independent wine merchant will be adversely
in Birmingham. Distilling is a growing
affected by the proposed reforms if they are enacted. We will end up paying about
scene around here, and there are a number
10% more in duty overall, even after the sparkling wine rate is removed, but working
of people coming through now though, like Spirit of Birmingham. We’ve got their vodka on the shelf and they are bringing out a whisky at some point. “There’s definitely a growing interest in local products. People are more conscious about food miles and would rather support a small local producer who, literally in the case of Spirit of Birmingham, is working up the road. We’ve seen that support on the craft beer side.”
out the new duty for every single wine, irrespective of whether we import it, buy under bond or duty paid, will also add a significant cost of bureaucracy. The tax goes up but the implementation of the tax also adds cost, relating to each individual wine we stock and sell. I really feel there will be a lot of error involved in the paperwork, the calculation of tax (one clerk said it would be done manually for every import, on a piece of paper with calculator and pencil), the ABV being incorrectly reported, all of which will be impossible to check without a lot of extra personnel. Would you want that job? The more I think about it, the worse it gets, and the more burden it will add to our stretched accounting resource. Hal Wilson, Cambridge Wine Merchants
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 9
Amjuly Del Carpio Cellar Door Wines, St Albans
rom making cider in Peru to starting a new life and career in the UK, Amjuly Del Carpio is blazing a trail of positivity and enthusiasm. “Amjuly is just the perfect employee,” says Penny Edwards, owner of Cellar Door Wines. “She has great energy and just rolls her sleeves up and gets involved in every aspect of the business, which is very important in a small company because we all need to do a little bit of everything in order to make it all work. She’s re-jigged the warehouse and she has new ideas and suggests ways to improve processes in the shop. Amjuly takes pride in what she does and is constantly looking to help to improve the business. “And the most important thing is that she wants to learn about wine and she’s crammed a whole lot of wine learning into a short space of time,” she adds. In less than six months, apart from becoming a valued member of staff, Amjuly has completed her WSET Level 2, is just about to embark on Level 3, and has her first wine trip under her belt. This may be down to her determination to say “yes” to everything and not let any opportunities pass her by. “When I had the chance to travel with The Wine Merchant to Portugal I was so afraid,” admits Amjuly. “But I said yes, because I always like to say yes to everything because for me it is a learning thing and we don’t have these opportunities in Peru. After the trip I was selling so much Portuguese wine because it is about the connection with the winemaker, the story behind the wine, the traditions and the respect for the product. I understand all this because of my background making cider. I always had respect for the growers, the staff in the factory and for the customers.”
fter selling her business and moving with her English husband to the UK, Amjuly was worried she might not find a job in an industry that she enjoyed. But, while waiting for her visa in Peru, she put Google to good use. “I saw that Cellar Door Wines was looking for someone and I thought this is the place I want to be,” she says. “I sent my CV and I remember Penny sent me a really nice email. When I went for my interview I was so worried about my outfit because I thought London is so
glamorous and I have to look smart. I bought high heels because everyone here is so tall, and I am a small little girl from Peru. My feet were in so much pain, so you can imagine how relieved I was when Penny said: ‘No high heels here, Amjuly, because we are on our feet all day and carry boxes’. “Working in a wine shop is hard, but I love it; it’s amazing. I am learning every day and you get to taste this amazing wine. Peru is famous for pisco but I have been looking for wineries in Peru and there are some that are making pet nat wines and interesting orange wines. If I had the opportunity I would try to bring some back to England. All my holiday plans are now about wine.” So, what’s next, Amjuly? “I want to do this for the rest of my life,” she says. “I love working with Penny – I feel a really special connection with her and the way she thinks about business is probably the way I thought when I had my business. Penny is my boss and I try to have that respect but sometimes I see her and I just hug her! Peruvians, we want to be friends immediately with everyone and I have to try to control myself because I am so happy.” Amjuly wins a bottle of Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 10
Ripponden reaps rewards of seating
me is the money to redecorate and put
money to add on the finishing touches at
some seating in. I’ve done it for £4,000 and
the end, just to elevate everything.
So based on the first two days, that will pay
invest will be coming in over the first
Ray Nicholls at Ripponden Wine
itself back in 10 weeks.”
few weeks and will go on to be our best
£3,000 of that was for the Bermar machine.
“I’m hoping that all those people who
Company in West Yorkshire has rejigged
The best evidence of its success is the
his shop to include a seating area for 12
customer who came in on the first night.
people and has extended his opening
“He lives locally, but he’d never been in
a separate limited company for The
hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
before,” says Nicholls. “He came along with
Summertown Wine Bar and gone into
one of my regular customers. They had
partnership with a third person. “We have
“Takings are up 25% on Friday to Saturday
a few glasses of wine, then he bought six
two successful shops and the last few years
the previous week and its about 20% of the
bottles of wine, signed up to my monthly
have shown us that you just never know
total takings just for by-the-glass sales. So
subscription service, and said to me ‘see
what is round the corner,” Woodward says.
for a first weekend, it couldn’t have gone
you next Friday’. Honestly, I couldn’t have
scripted it better.”
“I’m over the moon with it,” he says.
customers.” Woodward and Jelley have created
“Michael and I have absolutely no ambition to work at 11pm on a Friday night – we just wouldn’t be good at it. The
“It was an idea that I’d had rolling around in my head for a little while. We do two
key to it was finding someone that would
ticketed tasting evenings a month and a lot
buy into the new business with us. So we
of people buy wine off the back of it.
have a wonderful old colleague and friend, Emily Robotham, who is going to be the
“From there I introduced Sampling
Saturday, where I would open a couple of
“She worked with Michael and me at
bottles and have them on the counter and people would come and sample for free,
Majestic and has gone on to run university
and I wanted a way of making this a more
bars and cellars for the last five years or so.
Her passion for customer service and wine is second to none and she is the perfect
“I liked the idea of a tasting lounge where you could just roll up ad hoc and have a
person to come and work with us, so we
chat with me, be introduced to some new
are really excited.”
wines and hopefully make a purchase.” Nicholls’s approach was cautious. He
By-the-glass sales are now 20% of weekend tastings
listened to his customers it soon became clear that there was a definite hankering for a wine bar, so he gradually grew the
Crowdfunding for Grape Minds bar
idea and started looking at alternatives
Grape Minds in Summertown, Oxford,
to his Coravin. He considered other
plans to open its own wine bar.
preservation systems, including Enomatic, before opting for Bermar. “We spent the best part of four months really trying [the bar concept] out, so it has
feet and on the main Banbury road in Summertown, a location that Woodward
began by introducing a small seating area in the window and added a wine list. As he
The new site is around 3,000 square
Owners Graeme Woodward and Michael
describes as “magical,” and it’s just a three-minute walk away from the original Summertown shop, making all stock replenishment a fairly simple operation. They have also engaged the services of an interior designer. “With the shops, the wine is the focus,” explains Woodward,
Jelley have already secured the building
“and that is also really important in the bar,
and a crowdfunding scheme is underway.
but you have to create an environment that
Woodward says: “We’re looking to raise
is luxurious so that people want to spend a whole evening.
been slowly-slowly, and it’s taken us a little
a minimum of £25,000. My gut feeling
while to get the right model, but so far so
is that we’ll raise a little bit more. The
good,” reports Nicholls.
Summertown community are interested
but if everything goes absolutely perfectly,
and engaged so we’re quietly confident. If
maybe we’ll open in November. We’ll
had any additional staffing costs, I’ve not
we don’t reach the £25k the project still
probably allow ourselves to focus on Grape
moved into bigger premises, so all it’s cost
goes ahead, it’s just that last little bit of
Minds and absolutely nailing Christmas.”
“In reality, it’s still just me, so I’ve not
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 11
“We expect to open late February 2023,
that people are about to feel is only just beginning to dawn. By mid-winter, few of us are likely to have any doubts about the human impact of the abstract numbers we keep hearing on news bulletins. Spiralling energy bills will of course
Editorial There’s a storm on its way, and this time there’s no guarantee it will miss us
hit retailers directly, which is unwelcome news in itself, especially for those who have ridden out a quiet summer and are pinning hopes on a profitable Christmas run-in. And we probably shouldn’t assume that wealthier consumers will all be able to take soaring electricity and gas bills in their stride, either. Economics expert Duncan Weldon wrote in August: “The median income for households in the top fifth of earners
in Britain is around £63,000 after t’s not something that wine merchants
tax – affluent, but not rich enough to
tend to crow about, but their
comfortably absorb a £2,500 rise in utility
businesses prove remarkably resilient
bills without cutting back elsewhere.” We are about to find out how many
whenever the economy starts making clanking noises and emitting violent
people in this income bracket really regard
bursts of steam. Recessions don’t damage
wine as a necessity – or at least the sort of
specialist wine shops in quite the same
wine that specialists sell. The worry is that
way as they do other trades.
many will revert to what they can bundle in with their supermarket shop.
The reasons for this are often quoted in wine trade lore. The glibbest, and the
easiest to discount, is that when times are hard, people need to drown their sorrows. But there’s certainly truth in the
n last month’s Wine Merchant, Stuart McCloskey of The Vinorium in Kent reported that his business’s average
selling price per bottle has historically
claim that, if wine drinkers are facing a squeeze on their spending, they’ll probably
been £33, but the cost-of-living crisis has
give restaurants a miss and economise
meant orders have “gone through the
by buying bottles to enjoy with meals at
floor”. He said: “Customers who would buy from us weekly have just disappeared
home. It would be unfair to name them, but I have certainly spoken to a number of
Unemployment will increase for the next
… it’s maybe the wider world looking at
wine merchants over the years who will
those super-premium wines and thinking:
quietly admit that business often booms when recession is biting. There is also a vague sense that
Reliable estimates say that two-thirds of households will face fuel poverty by 2023, with typical annual bills increasing
actually we can’t afford this. It’s a luxury too far.” What can any small independent wine
economic downturns don’t really affect
from around £1,000 in early 2020 to
merchant do in such circumstances?
the kind of consumers who buy from
perhaps £4,400 by the spring of next year.
Making sure the range includes some sub-
specialist wine shops. The average bottle
At the time of writing, the scale of the pain
£10 bargains could be part of the strategy,
price in our sector, according to January’s
but not every business can make the sums
Wine Merchant trade survey, is £15.10,
add up by relying heavily on what most
compared to a market average of £6.35.
specialists would regard as entry-level fare.
Large swathes of the customer base always seem to have money to spend, whatever the economic weather. The Bank of England signalled last month that the UK will enter recession this autumn. Inflation will top 13% and remain at “very elevated levels” throughout 2023.
We are about to find out how many top earners really regard wine as a necessity THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 12
We know that our trade is resourceful as well as resilient. And no recession is ever so deep that people stop buying and selling wine. But anyone who believes that the gathering storm is going to miss them altogether is likely to find their optimism is misplaced.
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customers we could do without
38. Jocelyn Fettinghurst Look, they’ve got that Sauvignon Blanc that Paula really liked … bottom shelf of that fridge … I’ll hold the door and you reach down and get it but make sure it’s from the back ‘cos the ones at the front are probably warmer … if I hold both doors open that’ll make more room for you … I don’t think they go back any further than this … can you see it? Reach right to the back … that’s it … well done, clumsy, knocking all the other bottles over! Is that the one? I think it’s the one. What do you reckon? I dunno. Maybe get two. Another one from the back but don’t let those pink ones roll onto the floor … well, you’ll just have to squeeze though, I can’t open these doors any wider can I … now what shall we get for tomorrow? This fizz looks nice but those ones at the back will be colder … you hold that door and I’ll keep hold of this one … that bloke at the counter keeps giving us the evils but he shouldn’t have so much lukewarm wine in his fridge should he? That’s it, right at the back … maybe take out some of those ones in front of it so you don’t knock any more of them over …
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Congratulations to the five Wine Merchant reader survey respondents whose names were drawn at random
AM ANAand TIaMCoravin, GRwho E courtesy of each win our partner Hatch Mansfield. Can you unscramble these Burgundy Grands Crus? If so, you win a token fungee ball. Peter Fawcett, Field & Fawcett, York
1. Covet Seoul Dog The Wine Centre, Anthony Borges, 2. Lemon Ratchet Great Horkesley, Essex 3. Emu’s Lying Ristanovic, 4.Zoran Cremate Onion City Wine Collection, 5. Coldest SinsLondon Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Dorset Riaz Syed, Stonewines, London
THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANTseptember october 2021 2022 14
Partners in Wine JEROBOAMS TRADE AND PORT PHILLIP ESTATE
Port Phillip Estate is one of Australia’s most exciting food and wine destinations. Located on the coolclimate Mornington Peninsula, the domain is a specialist Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir producer love the cool, elegant styles that “areWemade in Mornington Peninsula –
with its maritime climate it’s perfect for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s not a huge area under vine so the wines have a rarity about them that makes them even more special. Lucie Parker, Jeroboams Trade
our wines are entirely domain“All grown, vinified and bottled. We endeavour to grow the highest quality fruit that expresses the terroir of each vineyard. All of our wines convey a sense of the place and the season in which they were grown.
Glen Hayley, Port Phillip Estate
The Port Phillip wines are new to the UK market and we’ve been working together for just over a year. Our buyer Maggie McPherson had a connection with the Gjergja family and Glen Hayley and when we placed more focus on our growing trade division, it made sense to start working with a family-owned winery that fits our buying philosophy. Our portfolio specialised in Margaret River – we are the UK agents for Moss Wood and Pierro – so we wanted to represent the regionality of Australia and something from Victoria was our next step. The Quartier range of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have a friendly price tag and the single-vineyard wines – we’re currently stocking the Red Hill Chardonnay and Balnarring Pinot – offer something more sophisticated. So there is something for everyone who has an interest in Mornington.
Quartier Pinot Gris RRP £20.95
Quartier Chardonnay RRP £20.95
Balnarring Pinot Noir RRP £24.95
Our winemaking philosophy is to best preserve the inherent characteristics present in the fruit, making site-expressive wines of detail and structure. Our practices in the winery are low-intervention, and fermentation of all our wines occurs spontaneously with native ambient yeasts. This is also the case for the malolactic fermentations. The UK is our main export market. Given our small focused production, our wines are well suited to premium on-trade and independent/specialist offtrade channels. Port Phillip Estate is delighted to be part of Jeroboams’ enviable portfolio of well known and respected producers as well as up-and-coming stars. The Jeroboams team across all channels have indepth product, producers, and industry knowledge and relationships. We feel it is a great affiliation.
Published in association with Jeroboams Trade Visit jeroboams.co.uk or call 0207 288 8888 for more information
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 15
In association with Champagne Castelnau, Champagne partner of ASO, organiser of Le Tour de France
Front row tickets at Le Tour A Champagne experience on the Champs-Elysées
ike a lot of people in the wine trade,
it’s a cracker. It’s the best way to travel, for
Chris Lockett is a cycling fan. He
me, and soak up these regions. I’ve never
actually uses the words “nerd” and
been to Champagne on the bike. There’s so
“geek”, which sound a little more extreme. Either way, when it comes to riding bikes, or watching the pros, Chris is a huge enthusiast. “I’ve been to a few stages of the Tour de France and also the Giro d’Italia so yes, to say I’m a fan would be a massive understatement,” he says. “I first really got into it in 2009 – that
much more to do.”
astelnau is the Champagne partner of ASO, organiser of Le Tour de France. Knowing that Chris was
an avid follower of the competition, UK subsidiary Castelnau Wine Agencies – whose portfolio includes a host of European and new world exclusives –
was the Wiggins breakthrough year. He
presented him with a VIP pass to the final
came fourth but he got bumped up to third
stage of the race, in Paris.
because of the Lance Armstrong debacle.
It was, he says, “a fantastic experience”.
It’s just become a total obsession.”
“We were in the same hotel as Team
A few years ago, a friend produced
Ineos, Team Jumbo Visma and Team DSM,”
a beautifully shot film showing Chris’s
he reports. “The place was buzzing and the
scenic cycle commute to his Lockett Bros
atmosphere was electric.
wine shop in North Berwick, which is still viewable on the shop’s website.
“You can’t imagine the excitement I was feeling. I’m such a cycling nerd and I
“Since having the shop we’ve always
was thrilled that one of the other guests,
done cycling tours of western Scotland,
Marcus Treacy from The Killarney Park
visiting distilleries,” he says. “We’ve done a
Hotel in County Kerry, was equally nerdy.
tour across Italy, from Milan across to Nice
So as soon as we got there we necked
through Piedmont – back in 2011, I think.
a beer and a glass or two of Castelnau
I’ve cycled all around Provence. I’ve ridden
Champagne and then found our position on
up Mt Ventoux six times over the years –
the barriers. A couple of hours of absolute
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 16
“Their Brut Réserve was sensational”
Castelnau’s keeping ahead
astelnau is proud to employ one of the few
female chefs de caves in Champagne, Carine Bailleul,
Left: Chris captures the action on the Champs-Elysées Above: Castelnau’s long lees ageing gives the wines their famous house style
who was shortlisted for Sparkling Winemaker of the Year in the 2021
joy watching the world’s elite cyclists battle out the final and most prestigious stage of
till midnight,” Chris says. “The next morning started with getting
International Wine Challenge. The house style is contemporary
a lift down to breakfast with Sep Kuss,
and Chardonnay-focused, but also
“We were like two little kids leaning over
one of the Jumbo Visma riders and one of
characterised by long lees aging
the barriers to see our heroes cycling past.
the most talented climbing domestiques in
for both non-vintage and vintage
the world. I didn’t lose it, but instead just
Champagnes, which gives body
You see the riders coming right in front of
played it cool in congratulating him on his
and complexity to the wines.
you on that part of the lap and then five
team winning the yellow jersey.
This amounts to five years
any grand tour.
“We couldn’t have had a better spot.
minutes later you see them coming up
“Then we were whizzing our way over
for the non-vintage releases
the other side of the boulevard at the top
to Reims and a 10.30am appointment at
and 12 years for vintages,
end of the Champs-Elysées, where they’re
Champagne Castelnau. Not a Champagne
twice as long as is usually
coming across La Place de la Concorde,
I knew all that well but a thrilling tasting
and then the far side where you see them
of four of their cuvées quickly converted
going out towards the river again and then
me to their style. Their Brut Réserve was
Castelnau has pledged
through the tunnel and back past us.
that all its grape
“They do seven laps so we basically saw
“Lunch at the Bistro des Anges, in the
growers will be
them go past 14 times. It couldn’t have
centre of Reims, was magnificent. Snails to
been better. We had front-row seats and
start, followed by fillet of beef, all helped
by 2025, five years
there was a massive screen right opposite
down by numerous glasses of Castelnau
earlier than the
Brut Réserve, rounded off the perfect
couple of days.
etting back to the hotel in time for
“It was nearly as good as being on the
a 9pm dinner reservation turned
Place de la Concorde 24 hours earlier. But
out to be a logistical nightmare
nothing could quite beat that.
in an even busier than normal Paris. “But
“Huge thanks to the whole team
we were all too blissed out to care, and we
at Champagne Castelnau for such an
eventually made it to our bistro at about
incredible opportunity and one that will
9.45pm for beer, wine, great food and chat
live on in my memory for ever.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 17
Champagne Castelnau is available in the UK via Castelnau Wine Agencies castelnau.co.uk @CastelnauUK
ight ideas r b
36: bring your own food David Dodd Tivoli Wines, Cheltenham
In a nutshell: In a twist on the classic restaurant offer to bring your own wine, once a week Tivoli Wines invites customers to bring their own takeaway to enjoy in its upstairs Wine Library. Tell us more … “Firstly, we wanted to drive footfall because unless we are hosting a ticketed event, Thursdays are usually a quieter day for us in the Wine Library. “Also we are very conscious of the cost of living crisis. A lot of people might say to us that we are insulated because we are in Cheltenham, but we’ve lost over 20% of our
competitive with each other and in other
purchasing wine by the glass. We have 32
basket spend so far this year and we might
ways we want to try to work together.”
wines on, so there’s plenty of choice.”
so it does affect our customers. Trying to
Have there been any clear favourites,
Has it been good for business?
reduce the cost of living for our consumers
“If you look at what Majestic and the
is something that is on our minds at the
“I would probably say the most popular
supermarkets are doing right now, it’s
moment and we thought that bringing in
has been the local pizza place. There have
a consistent 25% off. They might not be
your own takeaway is a cheaper alternative
also been a couple of new businesses that
losing too much money on that but it’s
to going out to local restaurants.”
have opened in recent months, including a
certainly the message they want embedded
Vietnamese one that’s been a favourite.”
in their customers’ minds on the lead-up to
be about 10% down on pre-Covid levels,
This sounds like an inventive way to
Christmas. Independents can’t offer 25%
work with other local businesses.
Talk us through the practicalities.
off because we don’t have the margin but
“Well, even though we have said to people
“The Wine Library sits 24 people and
it doesn’t mean we should give up. There
that they can bring food they’ve prepared
we provide the plates and cutlery. We
are other things we can do and this is the
themselves from home, we do try to
encourage people to book but it’s fine for
result of us sitting down and trying to
encourage them to order takeaway because
them to just rock up. In fact some people
come up with other ideas.
those businesses are also feeling the pinch.
do just that, have a glass of wine and then
“I’m part of a group called TURF, which
“Price perception will be key to success
realise that they can order a takeaway, then
this Christmas and we want to make sure
is a really strong collection of independent
in it comes. We might ask the customers
that we are getting out messages now that
restaurants, takeaways and retailers.
what they will be ordering in and then
our customers are front and centre of our
There are about 45 of us in the group and
make some wine recommendations
mind. We have seen some new customers
we are all sharing ideas on how we can
accordingly. We only provide wine through
that we haven’t seen before. It’s definitely
support each other. In some ways we are
the Enomatics on Thursdays, so they are
drawn some new people in.”
David wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize. Email email@example.com
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 18
CALIFORNIAN CREATIVITY Art and storytelling comes to life in one-of-a-kind wines by Orin Swift
Mannequin 2019 Trends go in and out of style but the mannequin remains a constant. Aromas of lemon, jasmine, and a touch of yellow chrysanthemum and fresh cut pineapple. On the palate, opulent juicy peach and nectarine is balanced by an elegant finish of lemon zest, almond praline and toffee. RRP £39.99
Slander 2020 This label goes back to Dave’s time working at another Napa Valley winery. When the winemaking team collected samples, they put a piece of duct tape across the bottle and wrote in Sharpie what was in the bottle. He loved the look and it inspired this label. Black cherry and a touch of minerality. RRP £47.99
8 Years in the Desert 2020 The wine epitomises the Orin Swift style. The aroma suggests raspberry juice and blueberry preserves with a hint of white pepper and forest floor. The perceived sweetness doesn’t carry to the palate, which is lush and enveloping with a beam of acidity. With ultra-round tannins, the wine finishes in slow motion. RRP £47.99
In association with Orin Swift Cellars
rin Swift is a California-based wine label and creative studio. Led by legendary winemaker Dave Phinney, the concept is a collection of art and storytelling that comes to life in one-of-a-kind labels and wine styles. After graduating university a few years after a semester studying in Florence, Dave started working for Robert Mondavi Winery as a harvest worker. It was there he decided that if he was going to work this hard, it needed to eventually be for himself. In 1998, he founded Orin Swift Cellars. With two tons of Zinfandel and not much else, he spent the next decade making wine for others, as well as himself, and grew the company into an iconic wine house known for its uncompromising creativity. Orin Swift wines offer incomparable storytelling behind every bottle, providing a non-traditional offering in the historically traditional luxury wine segment. Dave
and his winemaking team are dedicated to expressing geographic diversity in their sourcing, creating wine blends from a range of California’s premier sites – predominantly Napa Valley. Dave sets his sights on small lots within the most coveted growing regions, ensuring that only fruit of the highest quality makes it to the final blend, resulting in a portfolio that appeals to a variety of senses. Every wine in the portfolio, from the vineyard source to the distinct artwork adorning the label, offers a unique point of view while creating a heart-skipping impression. “There’s a soul to this business,” says Dave. “That soul isn’t just from the people who make wine, it’s from everyone who loves wines that make them feel something.” • Orin Swift wines are available from Enotria&Coe and The Vineyard Cellars
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 19
Inspired by a postman driving an old cop car, Dave Phinney set up a photo shoot using Calistoga’s moonlike landscape as a backdrop for this dynamic label. Out of over 10,000 shots, the final 12 are found on bottles of this intense Petite-Syrah based blend that appears almost black in the glass. RRP £54.99
Papillon 2018 The juxtaposition of delicacy and roughness – the papillon (French for butterfly) alongside the weathered farm hand reflects the nuanced but bold flavours in the wine. Aromatics of kirsch and sagebrush lead to notes of blackberry and liquorice on the palate. A beautiful, complex wine. RRP £69.99
Mercury Head 2019 Orin Swift’s flagship wine encompasses its winemaking philosophy and overall ethos. Adorned with the rare Mercury dime, Mercury Head is a quintessential Napa Cab that speaks to location and overdelivers on quality. The nose of ripe and crunchy blackcurrant recalls the vineyard aromas during harvest, along with some redcurrant, fresh thyme, sandalwood and garrigue. The profound, yet classic, palate expresses blackberry and raspberry preserves, a touch of rhubarb and black tea. RRP £138.99
TRIED & TESTED
Scotchman’s Hill Pinot Noir 2020
Principia Mathematica Vi de Garatge 2020
The Bellarine peninsula near Geelong in Victoria has a
Alemany i Corrió is Catalonia’s original garage winery,
cool maritime climate that, on paper, suits Pinot Noir
working with wild-fermented Xarel.lo from a Penedès
and the proof is right here in the bottle. There’s an
vineyard. It’s a walk on the wild side, with swirling
agreeable earthiness as well as gentle plumminess and
autolytic bakery aromas, zesty lime flavours and
a hint of spice. The kind of wine you could confidently
a nutty undercurrent. You sense that its creators
pour for even the pickiest Pinot perfectionist.
achieved better school grades for art than for maths.
Cachet Wine (07712 676466)
Alliance Wine (01505 506060)
Domaine de Villargeau Coteaux de Giennois 2021
Château Laurou Absolue Négrette 2019
Giennois doesn’t (yet) have the fanbase of Sancerre or
The Fronton appellation insists that Négrette makes
Pouilly-Fumé and so its Sauvignon Blanc-based wines
up at least 50% of the blend but Guy Salmona – who
still come in at very attractive price points. There’s lots
escaped the world of tech to follow his winemaking
to love here, from the simple, joyful fruitiness to the
dream – goes the whole hog here with a 100%
lime-like tang and the herbaceous details that provide
varietal wine, made organically from a tiny plot. Its
that Loire Valley authenticity.
blackberry, clove and liquorice depths are a delight.
Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)
Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)
Los Haroldos Estate Chardonnay 2021
Lechburg Organic Fetească Neagră 2019
Made with fruit from a range of Mendoza vineyards,
Hailing from Lechinta in Transylvania, this juicy,
this is a beautifully judged and unpretentious style of
succulent but eminently quaffable red is very
Chardonnay, where the acidity, tropical richness and
comfortable in its own skin. There’s natural sweetness
vanilla seem to intersect at the optimal angles. All too
from the medley of red and black fruits that is typical
easy to make disappear before your food reaches the
for the variety, which is not widely appreciated
table, but also a versatile dinner companion.
beyond its Romanian and Moldovan heartland.
Condor Wines (07715 671914)
Vida Wines & Spirits (020 7965 7283)
Clos Cibonne Cru Classé Tibouren 2021
Quinta do Pinto Arinto 2018
Tibouren is an ancient grape variety, a favourite of
the sunshine alive with wines as hedonistic as this
Napoleon, which was almost wiped out by phylloxera
single-varietal from Lisboa, a new entry in the Delibo
but just about clung on in this corner of Provence.
portfolio. An aroma of orange blossom, a palate of
Lithe and silky, with rich red fruit and some black
citrus fruits, just the right degree of sweetness and a
pepper, it’s blended with 10% Grenache for a little
steely, mineral edge, all rounded off by some judicious
extra balance and known locally as Baby Cornas.
Summer may be on the way out but we can keep
Graft Wine Co (020 3490 1210)
Delibo Wine Agencies (01993 886644)
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 20
BITS & BOBS
Majestic is calling on wine lovers across
sporting events like the Euros final and the
open some 76 potential new stores.
return of the Premier League, are thought
Despite the soaring cost of doing
Vino Gusto, Bury St Edmunds Favourite wine on our list
My answer today is a wicked Muscadet from Domaine Haute Févrie from a single site called Gras Moutons. It has all the zip and saline zing to be expected of identikit Muscadet, but this is a really serious, savoury wine with texture and finesse.
wine retailer said it will continue to invest
10% growth, followed by beer (5%) and
in physical stores.
soft drinks (5%). Wine, however, continues
Following recent store openings in
Favourite wine shop
The shop that instantly springs to mind is Kernowine in Falmouth. It was such a pleasure to stumble upon a brilliantly curated list of classic and leftfield fine wine, and under-theradar value bottles from all over.
to see a decline in sales, down 11% from
Haywards Heath and Godalming, Majestic
three years ago.
is looking for input from shoppers, who
The Drinks Business, August 17
could win a year’s supply of wine if they help it find the perfect shop. This is Money, August 29
New breakthrough on vine disease Wine lovers and vineyard owners can toast a possible fresh breakthrough in the battle against costly grapevine trunk diseases, the authors of a new study have said. New research on grapevine trunk diseases has shown how fungi can collaborate to attack a vine via a kind of “extracellular bomb”. Antioxidants may help wineries to
Favourite wine trip
The person I’d most like to be when I grow up is my old boss, John Hoskins MW. I adore The Old Bridge, his beautiful hotel and wine shop in Huntingdon. John epitomises the truest meaning of hospitality.
Cider is on the up with 12% growth on 2019 figures. Spirits are close behind with
Overthinking a food and wine pairing can be obstructive to the sheer enjoyment you could otherwise find by eating something tasty and drinking something delicious. Give me Neapolitan pizza and chilled cru Beaujolais and I’m a happy boy.
Favourite wine trade person
to be responsible for the spike in sales.
budgets and rising online competition, the
Favourite wine and food match
I haven’t been to Tuscany since before the pandemic and I’m dying to get back there. The classic wines of Chianti have a special place in my heart and it’s rare to feel such genuine warmth and hospitality.
Good weather, combined with major
the country to help it decide where to
business, the squeeze on customers’
Majestic wants to open 76 branches
fight back, said the international group Majestic’s branch in Henley
of researchers led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
On-trade rebounds but wine is lagging
of growing concern to vineyard owners
The drinks trade is showing positive
International Organisation for Vine & Wine
signs of recovery after the last two
years, with average sales in pubs, bars
Decanter, August 4
Grapevine trunk diseases have been in recent decades. Almost 20% of the world’s vineyards are affected, said the
and restaurants across Britain up 4% in the week to August 6 compared to the
• A delighted mum scored a huge bargain
same period in 2019.
after flogging a bottle of 1982 Château Cos
The latest CGA by NielsenIQ’s Drinks
d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, she won in a
Recovery Tracker has revealed that on-
50p tombola for £185. Kerry Carty, 33, had
trade drinks sales saw the best average
no idea she had won an expensive bottle of
value growth in early August since the
wine at her daughter’s school fair.
Platinum Jubilee weekend in June this year.
The Mirror, August 18
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 22
Investors seek refuge in fine wine
THE BURNING QUESTION
I work with many suppliers like Boutinot, Liberty, North South and Hayward Bros. All of them have been very helpful with meeting acceptable order levels. I can’t think of single supplier we work with that hasn’t seen the need to be more flexible around ordering. Wisely they have looked at the economic climate and decided they need to survive too. All in all I am extremely happy with the suppliers we have chosen and feel we’ll take on the financial issues together.
Bordeaux Index, the world’s largest fine wine trader, is toasting surging sales as investors flock to buy rare vintages in part as a hedge against rampant inflation. Revenues at the fine wine merchant reached £80m in the six months to June 30, up 37% on the same period last year. That
£126m. The merchant’s online wine trading exchange, LiveTrade, was responsible for the majority of growth, reporting sales 53% higher than the comparable period last year. Financial Times, August 5
We haven’t enquired, but it hasn’t been offered either. The increased costs affect everyone, so it’s difficult to say ‘I’m not going to pay that, or I need a better deal’. We look at it as a two-way street: we would never really ask too much of suppliers, as it has to be a collaboration. Companies like Thorman Hunt … it’s a privilege to deal with them, they are such nice people and their wines are so good. It’s the same with Alliance and Liberty.
Mark Banham Morrish & Banham, Dorchester
High hopes for low-calorie drinks
I think they generally changed during Covid and it was like,‘any order you want to put in, we’ll support that’, and it seems like most of those changes have stayed. New suppliers seem to have some of the highest minimum orders. I wonder if it’s creating a two-tier supplier agreement: if you’re a longstanding customer they’re like ‘fine, whatever you can order,’ but for new accounts they are more prescriptive.
Low-calorie alcohol retailer Drinkwell has received a £1m investment from a private investor to fuel its ambitious expansion plans. The funding, which will enable Drinkwell
to grow its team while launching two new
Cat Brandwood Toscanaccio, Winchester
brands, Lean Brew IPA and Traces Wine, amplifies the consumer trend for lowcalorie drinks that meet people’s lifestyle needs. Tom Bell, founder of DrinkWell, said: “In recent years the lower-calorie alcohol space has exploded in popularity, due to consumers becoming increasingly health conscious. The data backs up the fact that health and diet are really starting to take precedence amongst most consumers,
Julie Mills Vinomondo, Conwy
puts the London-headquartered company on course to beat 2021’s record revenue of
Are suppliers offering reasonable minimum order quantities?
I think some of them are a bit nervous about the financial environment at the moment and so some are almost encouraging us to order smaller amounts. Short answer is yes, I think they are being more flexible. I think they’re worried about customers defaulting. Some suppliers have offered me a discount if I pay up front, so they are happy to take a smaller margin rather than someone defaulting.
Ashton McCobb H Champagne winner H Appellation Wines, Edinburgh
which brands absolutely need to take note of if they want to not only survive but thrive in a rapidly changing market around lifestyle and wellness.”
Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584
The Drinks Business, August 23
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 23
CANCEL CULTURE When it comes to last-minute cancellations, the Covid excuse has become as ubiquitous as the old classic of a family bereavement. Four merchants tell Claire Harries about their experiences. Illustration by Fiona Blair
Deposits, refunds and booking systems
Kent Barker, who runs Wilding in Oxford
of eight or more, and we request a deposit
They’d all paid a £10 deposit and we had to
and Salisbury, and Eight Stony Street in
of £10 per person. We did that pre-Covid
refund every single one. It was horrendous.
Frome, Somerset, says: “We didn’t take
for bigger groups. But if they phone up, as
It took ages just to do the refunding.”
bookings pre-Covid. We put them in place
most people do, and say ‘we can’t come
at vast cost, because booking systems are
anymore because someone’s got Covid’, we
in Hove, East Sussex, has also invested
expensive. But actually we never looked
do a refund. We can’t not.
in a booking system. He explains: “Our
back, because it made life a lot simpler and
“We don’t take deposits unless it’s tables
“In the Christmas week of omicron we
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 24
had 1,100 covers booked in Oxford alone and in 24 hours we lost 800 of those.
Paul Morgan, owner of Fourth & Church
reservation system can be set up to
Counting the cost of the no-shows
automatically deduct that money [£20
over the summer she’s found that there are
month, which is a wine tasting at lunchtime
or £30 per head] once we have selected a
plenty of people waiting to fill any spaces
and we do that for between 24 and 32
no-show or cancellation option, but I don’t
left by flakier customers.
people, depending on the event.
set it up that way. I want to discuss the
She says: “We have teamed up with the
“It’s a ticketed event and we charge
situation with the customer who booked
fine dining restaurant next door. On Fridays
between £80 and £120, which is normally
before anything is done and then we make
and Saturdays they do the food and we do
for around six wines with paired courses.
an informed decision.
the drink, which is brilliant. We have had
We are very clear that there are no refunds.
people ringing up about half an hour before
If for some reason they can’t make it then
because it always, always throws up
to cancel. There’s not a lot we can do about
we are quite happy to roll that over as a
another chapter of issues to deal with.
that, to be honest, but we do try to make it
credit to the shop or a credit to dinner or
People can get very hostile with you
obvious that we’re not impressed.
to another event of their choosing, but we
“I very rarely end up taking the deposit,
publically and they never quite give the whole story – they call you out as being unreasonable or mean. It might be via
“It’s only a tiny amount who do that – I’d
don’t give money back.”
say about 5%.” Hayes is less forgiving when it comes to ticketed events. “My big portfolio
Excuses, excuses …
tasting sold out in about three weeks,” she
The general public can be fickle and
Wine Library in Plymouth, says: “We’ve
explains, “and for events I always make
unreliable, so cancellations and no-shows
always had a booking policy. It used to be
them pay up front for a ticket. If they cancel
have always been inevitable. It’s definitely
through the week but now it’s Fridays and
too close to the day, we don’t give them
Saturdays where we ask for a deposit of
their money back and they tend to take it
£15 a head.
on the chin.
social media or just word of mouth.” Fitz Spencer, owner of Honky Tonk
“If they cancel and don’t give us 24
“Usually, if people give enough notice,
hours’ notice then they lose that deposit.
then I can re-sell their ticket, in which case
When they make a booking online our
I’d refund them.”
policy is explained. Most people read it, but you get some that don’t.
Morgan at Fourth & Church says: “We do what we call a Sunday Session once a
“We ask for five days’ notice if it’s a
corporate event booked before Christmas last year and they cancelled so they lost their £1,000 deposit, but they did come and re-book in January-February time.” Ann Hayes at Ann et Vin in Newarkon-Trent, Nottinghamshire, doesn’t take deposits for tables in her courtyard, but
fairly stable”. He says: “In general people are very good and we are very busy so we can normally fill a table with a walk-in. But I’d much prefer it didn’t happen.” “It’s been a strange few months,” adds
corporate booking, and after that the deposit is non-refundable. We did have a
Kent Barker takes the view that while it is an issue, “it’s not a growing issue, it’s
Fitz Spencer. “You can normally understand
“We make it very clear there are no refunds. We’re quite happy to roll it over as a credit to another event” THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 26
and see the pattern throughout the year, but not so much this year. “It’s not just us, it’s the same throughout the town. When we came out of Covid it was like a greyhound coming out the traps: everybody wanted to get out and now it doesn’t help when the government screams doom and gloom out there. The small
micro-businesses are thriving, but we need the public to be confident and keep coming out and doing what they want to do. “People are still blaming some form of Covid when they cancel. If someone has the virus and they’re in a group, I can understand that they may not want to be together.” “People do use Covid a lot,” agrees Paul Morgan, “and they still use family bereavement quite a bit, or ‘my husband has lost his wallet and we’re all looking for it’ – that’s a great one. “Saying that, a lot of people are as good as gold. I’m not going to judge someone on what they are telling me is a lie or not, you just have to navigate the least problematic way. There are ways of meeting in the middle. “When we came out of the pandemic and everyone was loving restaurants and had really been really missing them, they were vocal about how reasonable it was to take a deposit. Now it’s gone back to ‘everything is shit about restaurants’.
Above left: Kent Barker of Eight Stony Street Above right: Fitz Spencer of Honky Tonk Wine Library Middle left: Paul Morgan of Fourth & Church Below left: Anne Hayes of Anne et Vin
“It’s all very boring to have those sorts of conversations with people but I try to explain that if you booked a theatre ticket or an airline ticket, or a hotel room, it’s the same thing. “I also try to say, in a calm way, that if they had turned up for their table and I had not got it for them – if I’d given it to someone else because I thought they were going to spend more money – I would be in breach of that contract.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 27
Anger is so infuriating David Williams is a mild-mannered guy, but even he is sometimes consumed by the red mist. Why should wine, of all things, get people so worked up? Shut up and read on, if you must know …
little ball of red-haired rage Johnny Rotten
once had it, “an energy” that can in some
I’m more interested in the ways anger
circumstances be harnessed to make us
manifests itself offline. In tasting, for
or the world better. The trick is knowing
example. I don’t mean red-faced, apoplectic
when to start and stop. Or, as Aristotle
rage, something that I’ve only ever
put it unimprovably some two and half
encountered once in a tasting setting (and
millennia ago, “Anybody can become angry
which was funny and a little ridiculous
– that is easy; but to be angry with the
rather than disturbing).
nger, according to most psychologists, is not always a bad thing. It is, as that dear
ut, as someone who believes the cartoonish caricatures we all become on social media are a
symptom not a cause of our age of anger,
right person, and to the right degree, and
I mean the kind of tetchy, passive-
at the right time, and for the right purpose,
aggressive, niggly, huffy sort of anger
and in the right way – that is not within
that so often comes out when two people
everybody’s power and is not easy.”
disagree on a wine.
Tell me about it. Tell everybody about
Sometimes, when a disagreement flares
it. We’re all so cross so much of the time. And while it may be possible to spin the
up, it’s not really about the wine. It might Aristotle, or possibly John Lydon
be a battle of egos: how dare you challenge
line that being angry at Putin or Boris
my view, which can only ever be the right
Johnson or the boss of Southern Water or
view since it’s my view, me, the greatest
BP could have the useful role of spurring us
taster who ever lived?
on to political action, for most of us, most
perhaps especially, into our routine daily
of the time, it leads to nothing more than
lives. Even into our generally hospitable
defensiveness or imposter syndrome on
spluttering and muttering, and feelings
and equable wine trade.
one or both sides: I’m out of step with
of impotence and despair. To borrow
Twitter is where the rage is most visible,
Or it might be an expression of
everyone, I look stupid, the only way to
from Aristotle, we might have the right
and “wine Twitter” is a place where the
save face is to double down on my opinion
targets, but berating them late at night on
weird grudges, slights, and aesthetic
and to put the case in an exaggeratedly
Newsnight cannot be said to be using anger
dogma of wine merchants, sommeliers,
passionate way that is totally out of
in the right degree, time, purpose or way.
writers and influencers (so many writers
keeping with my frankly rather lukewarm
Besides, getting cross at politicians and
and influencers) with too much time and
feelings for the wine.
other people in the public eye is only the
too many opinions on their hands comes
start of it. Anger gets everywhere. Even,
into the harshest pixelated light.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 28
But anger in wine tasting isn’t always about interpersonal dynamics and pop-
psychology. You can get angry – or at
is not shared – nay, disputed! – by a fellow
least, I can get angry – at wine when no
taster, the hackles rise, the eyes narrow, the
any human endeavour that doesn’t come
one else is around. Or more precisely, I
lips purse, and the argument begins.
under the category of “life or death”, from
can get angry at whatever vague, abstract personage or business is responsible for it.
But you could say the same about almost
literature and music to gastronomy and football. To an outsider not initiated in
between the quality and the price, an anger
that is directed at the cynicism, greed, or
doesn’t spend their life working with
I’d argue (passionately, intemperately)
even delusion of its producers.
and thinking about wine, the figure I
that you’re inevitably going to get roused
would see – the unedifyingly grumpy man
to anger about it from time to time. And,
when all the information I have to go on
raging away at a glass of purple liquid – is
while we might not want to encourage
in is right there in the glass. Too dull, too
ridiculous, entirely out of touch, and very
more rage in an already-angry world,
extracted, too much oak, too “natural”, too
clearly not angry at the right time, and for
provided it’s at the right time and in the
forced, too sickly. On some days these may
the right purpose, and in the right way. It’s
right place and for the right purpose, anger,
raise no more than an irritated sigh. But on
a glass of wine, you absolute lunatic, not
in wine as in everything, can be nothing
others, and most of all when this opinion
some terrible injustice.
more than a sign that you care.
Why am I angry? What, to use the modern parlance, are the triggers? Sometimes it’s to do with a gap I perceive
But the red mist can descend even
f course, if I were to take
the aesthetic disputes of a given field, any
a step back and view this
passionate debate looks absurd and out of
situation through the eyes of
a dispassionate observer, someone who
Sometimes, when a disagreement flares up, it’s not really about the wine. It might be a battle of egos: how dare you challenge my view, which can only ever be the right view since it’s my view, me, the greatest taster who ever lived?
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 29
But if you really care about something,
Alentejo, a place where secrets are shared Hundreds of producers in the Portuguese region are working together to make big progress on environmental and social issues, to the benefit of all
lenty of wineries would like to operate in a more sustainable way.
can be made. Alentejo began its sustainability journey
ideas and best practice across Alentejo. WASP has developed a knowledge-sharing
as far back as 2013, formally introducing
network to allow good ideas to spread
region comes together, with the same
the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability
quickly. Some of these include the use of
environmental and social ambitions …
Programme two years later. The scheme –
regenerative farming which, in a drought-
that’s when you sense that a real difference
known by the acronym WASP – supports
prone region like Alentejo, is showing
improvements in the way the industry
very positive results. The difference here,
looks after nature, and its people, and at
as WASP manager João Barroso says, is
the same time improves the economic
between “trying to survive in a desert, or,
performance of the region’s wine industry.
thriving in a garden of Eden”.
That’s laudible. But when an entire
In its first year, WASP signed up 93 members. There are now 517, all striving for a more efficient use of resources, the reduction and reuse of winemaking by-products, and a resulting decline in operating costs. Members conduct a self-assessment every year, so that improvements can be made (for example) in the way vineyards understand and deal with pests, or wineries conserve water in the cellar, or businesses recruit and train staff. The emphasis is on sharing knowledge,
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 30
Published in association with Wines of Alentejo vinhosdoalentejo.pt Instagram: vinhosdoalentejo For samples of Alentejo wines, contact Eleanor Standen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet two of the producers
Herdade dos Lagos
Imported by Vintage Roots
Herdade dos Lagos, in the Vale de Açor de Cima within Mértola in the south of Alentejo, had been practising sustainability for more than 40 years when it joined WASP in 2015. Since then, the estate – which is owned by the Zeppenfeld Kreikenbaum family from Germany – has been expanding beyond its organic certification. Planting cover crops has helped its soil’s organic matter content to rise from 0.75% to 4%. Growing olives and carobs, and rearing sheep, has not only stopped the vineyards being a monoculture, but also brought in diverse revenues when wine markets have fluctuated. Controlling irrigation has cut water usage by more than 71% over the past seven years, and seen otters return to the estate’s dams. Four arrays of solar panels have also been erected to produce electricity on site.
HDL Branco 2021 55% Arinto, 25% Viosinho, 20% Alvarinho. Slowly fermented in stainless steel and then left for six months on fine lees with occasional bâtonage. Passion fruit, pear and lime characters, with refreshing, spicy grapefruit.
HDL Tinto 2020 60% Syrah, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 10% Touriga Nacional. Aged for six months in stainless steel with 10% of the wine maturing in French oak. Notes of cranberry jam and cherry blossom. Silky, dry tannins.
HDL Touriga Nacional 2018 Aged for eight months in stainless steel with 10% of the wine maturing in French oak. Complex, with aromas of black fruit, jam and cocoa. Velvety, balanced and slightly spicy, with a flavour reminiscent of ginger,
Herdade de Coelheiros
Seeking UK distribution
Herdade de Coelheiros has converted 48 hectares of vineyard to organic farming and has used no herbicides for the past five years, with the amount of copper used on each hectare falling from more than 2kg in 2020 to 0.97kg in 2022. Grass has been seeded or has grown spontaneously across 51 hectares. The estate has installed 68 bird and bat boxes, with 23 of them occupied. It has also monitored birds of prey in the vineyards, ranging from resident species such as buzzards, kestrels and tawny owls through to summer visitors including black kites and booted eagles, and winter migrants like red kites. Thirty-six flowmeters have been fitted around the vineyards to monitor water consumption by the vines. The estate is also working on four sustainability projects with the University of Evora, ranging from biodiversity and ecosystem studies through to a doctoral thesis.
Coelheiros White 2021 80% Arinto, 20% Antão Vaz, from vines at 300m altitude. After fermentation begins in stainless steel, 30% of the must is fermented in French oak and left on fine lees. Fresh, balanced and exuberant.
Coelheiros Rosé 2021 100% Syrah, grown on granitic soil, again at 300m altitude, with a high clay content and low fertility. As with the white, a portion of the must completes its fermentation in barrel before some fine lees ageing.
Coelheiros Red 2021 50% Touriga Nacional, 50% Touriga Franca. The wine ferments in stainless steel and is left on its skins for five days, before a year of oak ageing. Concentrated but fresh, with up to eight years of ageing potential.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 31
PERNOD RICARD EDGES OUT LIBERTY WINES IN CHARITY THRILLER Fun in the sun at the Pol Roger Touch Rugby Tournament in aid of the Drinks Trust
The victorious Pernod Ricard team
n August 11, Pol Roger
Each game was played over 10 minutes
Barbarians FC, Gilbert Rugby, St Paul’s
Portfolio hosted a touch rugby
in a rugby sevens format, refereed by
Cathedral, Charlie Allen as well as all the
tournament in order to raise
former professional rugby players Nathan
teams, and refreshments provided by
Hines and Jack Clifford.
Timothy Taylors and Igo Wine.
funds for The Drinks Trust. In total, £3,205 was raised for the charity,
After a pools championship round,
With the tournament growing in size
the largest sum so far in the history of the
Pernod Ricard, Jascots, Liberty and Moët
each year, Pol Roger Portfolio looks
competition. With 18 teams attending,
Hennessy progressed to the semi-finals,
forward to hosting again next year on
this was the highest attendance at the
before a final game between Pernod Ricard
August 10 for more wine-trade sports fun
competition since it began four years ago.
and Liberty. A tightly contested match
and to raise even more money for charity.
The teams comprised members of the
ensued, and Pernod Ricard won out under
Details for submitting teams will be posted
wine trade, from companies such as Rémy
the August sun, triumphing for the second
closer to the time.
Cointreau, Freixenet Copestick, Jeroboams,
year in a row.
Lanique Wines, Jascots, Moët Hennessy,
The games took place at Barn Elms
Pernod Ricard, Liberty Wines, Berry Bros
playing fields, with Barnes RFC hosting
& Rudd, Stannary Wines, Hallgarten &
a post-match raffle to raise funds for the
Novum, Maison Marques et Domaines and
Lea & Sandeman.
Raffle prizes were contributed from the
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 32
www.polroger.co.uk 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger
Could Greek wine be on the verge of achieving something big in the independent trade? Maria Moutsou sees no reason why not. In association with Southern Wine Roads
Greece is the word
reece is finally on the independent trade’s radar. In The Wine
make into a finished product.” Maria is a firm believer that, even in the
“Our first PDO classification system was formed in the early 70s,” Maria says. “The
Merchant’s most recent reader
distant past, Greece had the terroir and the
first modern winemaker to study oenology
survey, just over a third of respondents
grape varieties to make high-quality wines.
outside Greece – in no less a place than
named it as one of the most exciting wine
As she points out: “Greece was very good
Bordeaux itself – was Lefteris Glinavos,
producing countries, placing it in sixth
at producing sweet wines, and back in the
with whom we collaborate. He still heads
place in the top 20.
19th century there was a big export market
the winery, in his mid 90s, together with
For Maria Moutsou, the wines of Greece
for Mavrodaphne and sweet Muscat wines,
his son Thomas.
have always been a passion. A Greek native,
and Vinsanto from Santorini was known to
“On returning to Greece, he established
she founded Southern Wine Roads in 2014,
be exported to the courts of Europe during
his winery and bottled his first ‘personal’
convinced that the UK market deserved
the Middle Ages under the Venetian rule.”
wine in 1978: a light sparkling rosé wine
Political turmoil in the 1970s set the
called Lady Frosyne, which is still going
access to a wider range of wines from her homeland. “More or less every family in Greece has a connection to a vineyard,” she says. “What fascinates me about wine is the
industry back, but by the 1980s a new
and which we import, following the local
breed of young winemaker was starting to
tradition of sparkling wines that dates back
emerge, often educated in overseas wine
centuries in the region of Epirus.”
schools. And as wineries modernised and
relationship with the land, the experience
vineyards were replanted with the help
of living the seasons, with something that
of EU investment, the scene was set for
takes a whole year to develop agriculturally
Greece to claim its rightful place among the
and then perhaps many more years to
world wine elite.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 33
very year, Southern Wine Roads puts a special marketing focus on two native Greek grapes, one white
and one red.
Vakakis Ti Amo Sparkling Muscat Blanc “Muscat being such a long living and fascinating grape variety, it has produced many different styles of wine, from sparkling to sweet. This one is like a Moscato d’Asti: a Charmat method sparkling wine with lovely mousse, delicate sweetness and low alcohol from a stopped fermentation. It’s the perfect companion to parties.”
This year has seen the turn of Roditis and Mavrodaphne, both of which were featured in a recent online tasting for independents run in partnership with The Wine Merchant. Next year attention will turn to Avgoustiatis (“such an interesting grape … it has the character of a Tempranillo
Vakakis Pythagorean Theorem Dry Muscat Blanc “In some PDO areas Muscat must be made only into sweet wines. Samos is one of the exceptions, expanding the offering of wines made on the island. This is a great dry example from vineyards in the Fterias area, at 800m altitude and with sandy clay soils. The yield is low and the wine has a refreshing acidity.”
or a Sangiovese, but more intriguing and delicate aromas, often floral, including violets and desiccated roses”) and Muscat, which has been one of the most praised Greek grapes throughout history and the most decorated one, claiming no fewer than six PDO designations, more than any other Greek grape variety. “Muscat is an amazing value grape, very appealing; ancient and modern at the same time, versatile, and it performs beautifully
Vakakis Kalypso Under Sea Aged Dry Muscat “This is an experiment continuing the trend for under-sea wine ageing of the past 10 to 15 years. The wine matures for two years 20m under the sea, where the temperature is cooler and more uniform, and light reach is limited. This is another example of the innovation that is happening in Greek wineries right now.”
Papargyriou Blanc Dry White Blend “A versatile 50-50 blend of Muscat and Assyrtiko from a family winery. The grapes are cultivated at 850m in limestone soil in the northern Peloponnese. The Muscat is very fragrant and prominent on the nose, very lifted and delicate. The Assyrtiko gives body and alcohol. Both have high acidity and the combination is simply genial.”
Garalis Terra Ambera Amphora Muscat of Alexandria “This is made by a more delicate Muscat variety from the island of Lemnos. It doesn’t have the linearity of Muscat Blanc but the aromas are exotic. Made by a natural wine producer, it spends 45 days on its skins in amphora, the clay vessel adding layers of warmth and earthiness.”
in its home,” Maria says. “The word Muscat comes from the Greek word μόσχος, meaning fragrant. “The variety originates from the eastern Mediterranean and more specifically the island of Samos. “Muscat is not only the grape with the most PDO classifications in Greek wine but the one with a multitude of regional names,
why Greece shouldn’t emulate some of the recent UK market successes of Portugal. She is hesitant to offer generalised advice
showing how popular and interwoven
to any indie thinking of expanding their
with people’s living it has been. Of those
Greek range. “You have to take every case
names, about 15 are now commonly used
on its merits,” she says. “Each merchant
throughout Greece, from Thrace to Crete
has its own clientele, priorities and the
and from Samos to the Ionian Sea.
individual preferences of the owners and
“The Muscat varieties found in Greece
staff.” But the SWR teams stands ready
are mainly Muscat Blanc, which is the
to guide Greek wine novices through the
dominant one, and Muscat of Alexandria,
with anecdotal plantings of Muscat Ottonel also reported. “Muscat blends are an amazing way to enjoy the grape in wines made to
What are Greece’s most exciting wine regions right now? “It’s difficult to give one single answer,” she says. “I used to say, as a joke, that you can have
accompany food, as they offer the
a vineyard on your balcony in Greece, and
opportunity to combine a generous
it would produce something interesting.
nose with a more substantial body and a
You can find a plethora of microterroirs
matching, refreshing acidity, as we see in
a stone’s throw from each other. For
Papargyriou Muscat Blanc.”
example, if you are in the Peloponnese
you might think there should be some outhern Wine Roads is steadily
uniformity of terroir, but you can get into
increasing its trade with the
another enclosure between mountains
independent sector as more
within 80km or100km and then you have
merchants take a more serious look at
totally different climate influences: wind
what Greece has to offer.
reaching from the west rather than the
According to Maria, there is no reason
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 34
north, the concentration of humidity being
Vakakis Pythagorean Pyramid Muscat Blanc & Muscat Noir “A double-bill rosé wine made with black and white Muscat grapes. The must stays for a couple of hours with the grape skins and then ferments at low temperatures to create an exceptionally fruity and aromatic wine. It has the most exotic nose you can find, loaded with rose petal aromas and notes of pomegranate and quince.”
Vakakis Pythagorean Cup Semi-sweet Muscat Blanc “A versatile wine, thanks to its generous grapey and summer fruit flavours, high acidity and residual sugars, which create the perfect balance to allow it to be enjoyed throughout a meal. It’s ideal with charcuterie and patés, as well as light desserts, on its own or as a mixer for dry sparkling wines.”
Vakakis Filion Vin Doux Muscat Blanc
different and the flora and fauna becoming very local and distinct.
In association with
“Greece might not look big on a map, but I always say it’s big in its detail.
“This wine style is the most popular and the most exported out of Samos. It’s made by stopping the fermentation with spirit at 15% abv to achieve the desired residual sweetness and capture all the grapeyness, summer fruit flavours and a hint of nuts. Perfect with Christmas pudding and all kinds of brioche and panettone pastries.”
“I think Greek wine definitely deserves more attention to this intrinsic detail and to its vast winemaking history. There is so much depth and variety in winemaking right now in Greece, and a lot to discover
email@example.com southernwineroads.com Telephone 07775 714595
for novices and fans alike.” Maria Moutsou started the Southern Wine Roads business in 2014
Vakakis Pythagorean Epogdoon Barrel Aged Muscat Blanc “A very serious sweet wine, made from older vines at 650m altitude. After meticulous selection, grapes are laid to dry in the sun then gently pressed, delivering a dense must that ferments with its own yeasts. The wine matures in French oak for 12-18 months. A rich wine with a broad palette of flavours.”
Vermood Bianco Muscat Blanc Vermouth “Muscat Blanc still wine (from within the PDO Muscat of Rio) is distilled with citrus fruit peels, herbs and spices to create this sublime drink. Producers of sweet Muscat are experimenting with other styles in order to diversify their offer. I love this over ice. The alcohol level is low (18%) so you don’t really need a mixer.”
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 35
Merchant Profile: Brigitte Bordeaux, Nottingham
“To accompany the monthly tastings he used to write a blog and he had a nom de vin, Corkmaster [taken from the honorary name of the head of a
A steep learning curve, even for a teacher
snooty wine group in the US sitcom Frasier]. “He told me I needed to come up with a wine name to write the blog. We were batting names around – Marilyn Merlot, things like that – and Matt, my partner, came up with Brigitte Bordeaux. I was calling myself that writing the blog for a few years.” Teaching began to lose its lustre after Kat had her first child in 2015. “I was finding the workload too much,” she says. “Before having kids I’d quite happily spend all day on a Sunday marking books.
Like her former pupils, Kat Stead has had to work hard to get the results she was hoping for – in her case at the wine shop and bar she opened in November 2018
something in wine. I wasn’t quite sure what but, as I’d been a teacher, I thought maybe it would involve wine education. “But the dream was to open a place like this, though I had no idea how to go about doing it.”
By Nigel Huddleston
“I started saying to people I wanted to do
So how did you go about it? We moved close to here in 2017 and we were he allure of wine tempts people from all
out walking – it was a really cold dark January
sorts of professions into running a wine
afternoon about four or five o’clock. We passed by
shop. Kat Stead was an English teacher
and saw the building was up for sale. It was an old
in a secondary school when a chance encounter
antique shop. The way it was laid out was ideal,
at a wine tasting in a Nottingham restaurant set
because my dream was to have the shop in front
in motion a chain of events that ended with her
and the bar behind.
opening the wine merchant with the best name
We spent the whole of 2018 taking two steps
derived from a sixties French actress/classic wine
forward and one step back. We couldn’t get a
commercial mortgage because the business wasn’t
Brigitte Bordeaux is a cool-looking hybrid with
up and running. We got turned down for planning
a great garden, in a Victorian property on a main
permission at first because we had residents
arterial road out of Nottingham, north towards
either side. We had to go and sit down with the
Mansfield. It’s a little off the main drag, but just
planning officer to convince him we were opening a
a hundred yards away the road turns into a busy
reputable establishment with well-behaved guests.
high street with a mix of shops and cafés, indies and the odd chain, including Wetherspoon’s, which
Was there ever a thought of giving up?
has taken over half of one of the city’s busiest bus
We got halfway through 2018 and it looked like it
depots. Known as Sherwood, the locale is a destination spot that also caters to two residential areas: the affluent Mapperley Park and the not-so Carrington. Kat’s encounter at the restaurant, back in 2012, was with Laurie Moran, who ran the Wine in Nottingham enthusiasts’ group. She joined the club, started studying for WSET qualifications and eventually agreed to co-run it as Laurie was spending a lot of time in France.
“We had to go and sit down with the planning officer to convince him we were opening a reputable establishment with well-behaved guests”
wouldn’t happen, but by that point I’d decided I was going to do it somewhere, wherever it was. Because it was taking so long, the vendor put it back on the market at one point and we were looking at other premises. Eventually we got permission but we had lots of conditions. Initially, we were only open until 9.30pm at the weekend but we’ve managed to change that to 11pm now.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 36
I spent the autumn term teaching and trying to
Kat Stead, Sherwood, Nottingham, July 2022
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 37
get this place set up and get funding. I got turned down for my start-up loan while the workmen were mid-job, so it was all a bit stressful. But I’m really glad I did it now, looking back. So you didn’t buy the property outright? We ended up buying the flat upstairs and taking a lease on the ground floor, with a really good deal on the rent and an option to buy the ground floor at a later date for a fixed amount. We got a really great deal but we also put a lot of money into doing it up. We opened on December 14, 2018, and I finished teaching the following Friday. There was a lot of initial interest, because we were new, and then days at the beginning of January 2019 when there were no customers. But it gradually built up. Then early 2020 happened. The pandemic was a whole different way of doing things. Before the first lockdown was announced we started offering deliveries even though we didn’t have an online store. That was more of a long-term plan. What was the design approach with the physical
We could have stayed open but we decided to close and we were at full capacity with deliveries.
shop and bar?
It went absolutely mad. I did call-forwarding from
We’ve kind of gone with the French thing: it’s red,
the shop phone to my mobile, and from late March
white and blue, and the red is a kind of wine colour.
through to May this place turned into a warehouse,
We scoured all the auction houses for furniture and
with boxes and boxes of wine. All my suppliers were
the maps on the wall, picking up various things. The
wondering why I’d gone from ordering really small
tiles in bathroom and the backroom were what we
amounts of wine to huge orders.
were putting in our dining room at home.
We used to deliver to some people two or three
I was in Green Man Wines in Dublin and they had
times a week who we’ve never heard from since,
tables made of wine boxes. That gave us the idea
and lots of customers discovered us through that
for our tables which are basically IKEA tables with
and have stayed with us. That pushed us to get the
wine boxes cut up to make the tops.
online store up and running. And how did you go about filling the shelves? I just emailed a list of wholesalers and suppliers from my living room on my Hotmail account – and got two responses. Enotria and Liberty were the ones that got back to me, so when we opened it was just with the those two, plus our own-label. How did that own-label wine come about? When I did my WSET Level 2, I met these guys who The outside seating
had a place in Bordeaux and wanted to import their
area extends the bar’s
neighbours’ wines. We drove out there, tasted the
wines, and they were really great, and, brilliantly,
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 38
Enotria and Liberty
Maltby & Greek, Marta Vine for Portugal, Dreyfuss
were the company’s
Ashby for South Africa and the Loire.
original two suppliers. These days there
What do you look for in a wine or a supplier?
are about 16 on the
Interesting wines from new regions and different
grape varieties. Obviously the wines that you’re mad about are not always going to be the best sellers in the world. But if I really love a wine I’ll end up putting it on the shelf. Even if it’s too obscure or expensive we’ll still end up selling a bit of it. I like to have a broad range and some niche things, but for most people who come here the average bottle spend is £12-£15. Price point is important at the moment, particularly with the cost of living. We can’t compete with the supermarkets on price and people come here for the experience – but it’s good to be able to offer good value. I’m always on the lookout for a really good bottle of wine that’s around that £10, £11, £12 point. There are certain wines that sell themselves and others that you have to work a bit harder to convince people of. Do you have a favourite region or country? Do
we found we could put our own labels on them. It
you feel obliged to say Bordeaux?
was really cheap as well. We had those as our house
No, it changes all the time. At the moment, I really
wines for the first year but unfortunately they
don’t have a favourite, though we’ve probably got
stopped importing them. We’ve been searching for
more French stuff on the shelves than anything.
something to replace it since then, but we haven’t
We’ve got some really interesting Greek stuff,
come up with anything so good.
Hungarian stuff … those countries that have their own indigenous grape varieties are quite
Have you consider shipping wines yourself?
interesting. Italy is so vast and varied. That’s the
We’d like to start. I’m having French lessons to try
great thing about wine; I like most of it.
to make that easier when it comes around. What’s the best thing about running a wine How has the supplier base expanded?
Initially, the rep from Enotria saw an opportunity
I love thinking of new things to do – tastings
and basically came and stocked my shelves for me.
and promotions. We do online and social media
When we opened it was about 75% Enotria, and
giveaways and the like. We get involved in things
25% Liberty. It’s so different now. When we first opened we probably had three or four facings of each wine, but now we don’t do that because we have many more wines. But Enotria have always been good to us and they have some great wines that are still some of our bestsellers. We’ve probably got 15 or 16 suppliers. I’m a sucker for discovering new wines and suppliers and we use a lot of specialists like Best of Hungary,
“Obviously the wines that you’re mad about are not always going to be the best sellers in the world. But if I really love a wine I’ll end up putting it on the shelf”
like International Sherry Week, Bordeaux Wine Month and 31 Days of Riesling, to get people excited about wines they may not otherwise be. We’ve done quite a few Greek tastings recently, with wine clubs and societies. I started off working with Best of Hungary after a tasting The Wine Merchant magazine
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 39
There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment. What are the biggest challenges facing businesses like yours? The cost of living and people’s disposable income. We are a bit of a premium thing. That’s why it’s really important to have really good value wines on the shelves, wines for under £12 that don’t price people out of the market. If we can get a good deal we pass it on to our customers. When you’re a public sector worker, you think people who run their own business automatically make lots of money. But you discover that’s not how it works at all. The bills keep coming in. You think you’re doing OK and you get a fat bill. But that’s aIl part of the enjoyment as well – the reward. We’re very lucky, touch wood, that we have a great customer base. We’ve got regular customers who are only shop customers and we’ve got others that are only bar customers, and some who are both. Our tasting events are very popular and we’ve got people who come to probably over 50% of them. We get to know people and become part of the community. You can go to the supermarket and spend six quid on a bottle of wine. If you come here there’s a lot more choice and better wine, and you also have a chat and get a different experience. and, on the back of that, we had some Hungarian
So having got this far with the business, are
winemakers who did an event in our garden, which
there things you wish you’d done differently?
was really successful.
Nothing major jumps out. It’s a constant learning curve. I’m really bad at saying yes to everything and
Your location is near a lot of money in
doing tastings for free and that sort of thing.
Mapperley Park. Have you tapped into that?
“When you’re a public sector worker, you think people who run their own business automatically make lots of money. But you discover that’s not how it works at all”
So many people tried to scare the living daylights
I’ve started a wine club: on the last Monday of
out of me in the run-up to opening with that intake
the month we deliver a case of wine. Quite a lot of
of breath and “do you know what you’re doing?”,
subscribers are in Mapperley Park, but it’s also the
making me think it was attempting the impossible. When I was applying for a start-up loan from First
sort of area where people might have their own cellar and buy from Berry Bros. It has a residents’
Enterprise they wanted a 25-page colour business
association and we did their Jubilee thing at the
plan. They asked me what experience I had and I
local cricket club. Things like that are good to get us
told them I’d worked In Wetherspoon’s when I was
at university. I remember sitting there at midnight
We thought it was going to be cancelled because of the apocalyptic weather forecast. Then we heard
getting pictures of fridges off the internet at midnight to put into the business plan. When you’re in the middle of that, people suggest
mid-morning that it was going ahead, so we were a bit annoyed that we had to go and do it – but it was
things that are massively important that turn out
worthwhile because lots of people came out and
not to be. I could quite easily have let people scare
me into not doing it. But here it is.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 40
British wars with the French were of great help to Orkney. Rather than risk the dangers of the English Channel, shipping would go “northabout”, around the top of the country. Trade routes from London, Hull and Leith on the east, and Glasgow, Liverpool, and Cardiff on the west, all
Northabout A long tradition of fine wine and exotic food has its roots in wars with France
passed these islands. Stopping to refuel or shelter from bad weather was a frequent occurrence. Scapa Flow is, after all, the biggest and safest natural harbour in northern Europe. International shipping often docked too, whether to pick up supplies before a long ocean journey, or to recruit crew – Orcadians were born sailors. So, it’s no surprise that, when money started flowing into the islands due to the export of cattle and other agricultural products in the 1840s and 50s, enterprising Orcadians set up businesses to capitalise on the availability of, and taste for, exotic food and drink. We have receipt books going back to the 1860s showing sales of Champagne, claret, and any number of obscure fortified wines as well as coffee, preserved fruit, and even pasta. For a while the shop advertised itself as an “Italian Warehouseman”, the generic name for fine wine and food shops before “delicatessen” entered English usage. The biggest change since 1859 has been the democratisation of wine. It’s no longer the preserve of the landowners and lairds who came up to their island summer
The shop pictured circa 1910
houses for a spot of hunting and fishing and ordered a few cases of Mr Kirkness’s excellent shop-bottled Margaux or Haut
he Orkney Islands might seem
by bridges or ferries. It wasn’t always that
Sauternes. What was that exactly? I don’t
a surprising place to find one
way. Until the mid-20th century, the sea
know, but we still have the loose labels.
of the longest-established wine
was a much quicker and more reliable
It’s true, the islands are popular with
merchants in the country. But Kirkness &
way for freight and people to move long
the upper middle classes of Islington
Gorie is busier than ever, 163 years after
and Morningside, but our shop can’t rely
its opening was announced in the pages of
So it was that Orkney – 20 miles off the
entirely on their short-season custom.
The Orcadian in June 1859. It’s still in its
north coast of Scotland – established itself
Like the four generations of the family
original location in the heart of Kirkwall,
as an unusually open and cosmopolitan
preceding us, we see local trade as our
opposite St Magnus Cathedral, and still
trading centre a thousand years ago, and
bedrock: farmers of cattle, fish and wind,
owned and run by the same family.
has remained so ever since.
butchers, teachers, and traffic wardens.
Which shows either remarkable
(Actually, we don’t have any traffic
persistence on our part, or a terrible lack
of ambition. For a century or so, we’ve thought land travel the best way to move freight across the country. Big stretches of water, fresh or salt, are obstacles that must be overcome
After 163 years, I think we’re just about
The biggest change since 1859 has been the democratisation of wine THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 41
working out how to keep them happy. Duncan Mclean is proprietor Reggio Emiliaof Kirkness & Gorie, Kirkwall
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL The team behind Frederick’s Wine know all about working for big wine companies. But their heart lies in sourcing limited-production wines from sustainable, family growers that will appeal to indies
ou can tell when someone loves their job. Guy Smith, like the other two members of the Frederick’s Wine team, has worked for some big companies in the drinks industry. But, chatting from an old cider cellar on a Somerset farm, dog sleeping not far from his feet, you sense that he’s found his spiritual home. Like partners Stuart Bowman-Hood and Will Willis, Smith worked in various high-profile beverage businesses, handling upscale wines as well as mainstream brands, before establishing Frederick’s in 2018. (The name was borrowed from Smith’s faithful black Labrador, who lived a happy life roaming the small vineyard which is also part of the set-up.) “We’ve all worked for big corporations and we’ve all done massive projects but at some point you’ve got to go back to your heart and soul,” Smith says. “So we are working with family growers, pretty much all organic – certainly sustainable – and we simply choose wines that we love and that we believe in.” Frederick’s is now ready to introduce the portfolio to the independent trade. The team talk a lot about their “hearts ruling their heads” with the way the business is run, joking that if some of the limited-
edition wines don’t do as well as hoped, the directors – and their friends and families – will happily snap them up for their personal enjoyment. Yet there’s a sense that the range has been more carefully assembled than that would suggest. In addition to importing wines, Frederick’s is also creating some of its own unique labels. “We have been so involved with NPD, winemaking and blending,” Smith says. “It’s something we still want to do, so one of our points of difference is L’Entente. “It’s a bit of an umbrella brand. It’s all organic and vegan, and we’re just about to do a bee-friendly certified wine, biodynamic, sulphur-free … it’s really focusing on trying to do the right thing, and we have producers who want to do this with us in France, Spain and Italy. The idea of developing our own brands is really exciting and goes a long way to satisfying our creative urges.” Smith also sits on the board of WineGB and makes wine from his small Somerset estate under the Smith & Evans name. He produces a craft cider too – “we’re in Somerset, so it’s the law” – labelled as Hunky Punk. Aside from the sustainability credentials, is there any other theme running through
From left: Guy Smith, Stuart Bowman-Hood and Will Willis
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 42
the wines that Frederick’s offers? “I would say we all go for freshness, nothing over-extracted. And that sense of place is best represented by family ownership. This is really important to us as it means we are always working with the decision-makers who are ultimately building their dream, which we all want to share in. “Fratelli Fanucci (vignano.com) is a great example of this: three brothers who have returned to their native Tuscany to produce fantastic organic wines, not just Chianti. Everything has a little family twist.” The company has clearly not gone overboard with its overheads, and has a small staff. But Smith insists that the team stands ready to help its independent customers above and beyond offering keen pricing. “We want to be at as many events as possible so we do want to help with tastings in shops – and so do our producers, who want to come over and meet people,” he says. “We have a minimum order of 10 cases of six and if someone goes much larger than that then we’ll be flexible: if it costs less to transport then we’ll charge them less. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible because we’ve all been there. I’ve run shops, Will’s run shops and in fact in our cellar door we have a wine shop. “Everyone’s costs are going up and we know that keen pricing and sensible stockholding are the key to supporting the vibrant independent sector, and cash flow will be tight for the foreseeable future. “We’re never going to compete on entrylevel but that’s not really our thing. Our opportunity is offering unique, familyowned wine gems, often never seen before in the UK. It’s real hand-picked, handchosen, hand-sold wine.”
SOME KEY AGENCIES Passel Estate, Margaret River “Wendy and Barry Stimpson grow Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon on this 6ha estate, which also includes a western ring-tailed possum sanctuary (hence the name Passel, the collective noun for possums). They are aiming purely for quality. “There’s a French phrase – ‘if you put your hand in the vineyard, it will take your arm’, and I think that applies to them. Wendy and Barry bought a house in Margaret River, then a bit of land, and then in 2011, when a vineyard came up for sale, they bought the whole estate. “Focusing on small quantities of seriously great quality wines which are regularly awarded internationally, this is their first foray into UK and we are all super-excited to be their partner.” passelestate.com
Des Annereaux, Bordeaux “We have an exclusive on this. It’s organic and unbelievably good. “It comes from a single organic plot called L’Ane Mort (Dead Donkey) in Lalande de Pomerol. Don’t let the name put you off, this is delicious. It is owned by the Hessel family who have been at Annereaux for centuries. One of the reasons the wine is so good is that it contains 2% Petit Verdot which adds grip and freshness. It’s beautifully balanced and so great to drink on release, but will also age.” annereaux.com
Aegerter, Burgundy “The fact that we could get hold of a Burgundy producer who could do the whole of the region amazed us. The maison is based in NuitsSaint-Georges. These passionate people are daring enough to leave the beaten track and offer all consumers, beginners and experts alike, carefully picked selections, new blends and different bottles.” aegerter.fr/en Château La Sable, Luberon “We were introduced to Virginie and Jean Marc by Guy’s cousin and once we tried their organic wines we just had to buy them. The first vines were planted in 1967 on steep slopes at 250m above sea level. The sandy soils lend themselves not only to the name of the estate but also the incredible freshness and expression of pure fruit flavours.” chateaulasable.com/en Jesus Madrazo “Jesus was the winemaker at Contino for 17 years. His father founded Contino so his family is one of the founding families of CVNE. He chose us because he’s known us for over 20 years. He is rightly considered one of Spain’s leading winemakers, with a worldwide following.”
Lozano Family, Rioja and La Mancha “Founded in 1853 in Villarrobledo, La Mancha and now in its fourth generation, at a large, modern, state-of-the-art winery, Jaime Lozano just wants to make something that is exceptional and new to this market. With grapes sourced mainly from their own vineyards, Lozano have been shipping bulk and bottled wine here under various labels for decades, but their Rioja is new and they have some amazing 80 to 100-year-old viticultural stock.” bodegas-lozano.com/gb Julia Kemper, Dão “Julia is a real live wire, a real experimenter and very high profile in Portugal and a lot of export markets, but she hasn’t done much here yet. From high in the mountainous Dao region, Quinta do Cruziero has been part of the Melo family for more than 400 years. Now farmed biodynamically, the wines are so focused and refined and wellnoted by international wine critics. This is a real find for us.” juliakemperwines.com
Sponsored by Frederick’s Wine frederickswine.com 07823 344173
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022The Newington Green store has “a nice kitchen vibe” 43
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE AND WIN WBC PRIZES Can you find all 10 differences between the two pictures opposite? If you can, you could be among the five readers who win one of five prizes generously provided by WBC, the trade’s trusted supplier of wine boxes, packaging materials, shop display equipment and so much more
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PRIZE 3 72 rolls of personalised tape printed in two colours. This 50mm tape is a great way to get your brand onto your packed items. Available in PVC-Poly and paper, to suit a wide range of packing needs, giving your packaging a polished and professional finish. Choose from white, kraft or clear. Value: £200
HOW TO ENTER PRIZE 2 Pulpsafe transit packaging. WBC’s famous Pulpsafe system offers the highest levels of protection for shipping your bottles. It also boasts the greenest possible eco-credentials and is a cinch to use. Its flexible nature allows for some variations in bottle shapes and sizes that more rigid material wouldn’t accommodate. Value: £250
Mark all 10 differences between the two pictures, on image B, using a Sharpie pen or similar. Take a clear shot of your edits and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Spot the Difference. Make sure to include your name, address and business details. Correct entries received by the closing date of Tuesday, October 4 will be entered into a draw with five winners selected at random. Ts & Cs: This competition is jointly organised by WBC and The Wine Merchant. ONE entry per business. Retailers only. Entries received after October 4 will not be considered. No correspondence will be entered into. Winners will be named on November 15.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 44
PRIZE 5 Mathusalem Sommelier Champagne sabre. The ultimate Champagne accessory, helping to carry on the tradition of sabrage. Comes with a rosewood handle and supplied in a wooden presentation box. Value: £120
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 45
Beyond Burgundy Short harvests and spiralling prices aren’t making life easy for Burgundy lovers. So why does the trade persist, and what are the alternatives? Graham Holter reports
the state of play with Burgundian
increasing demand, smaller harvests and
secondary market, have told me their cellar
wines can be challenge, since a
inflation, the outlook isn’t too promising.
is now ‘too expensive to drink’ – which
buy and enjoy them. That situation looks
rising costs. The real difficulty is securing
unlikely to improve any time soon.
orming an educated opinion on
dwindling number of us have the ability to
The 2021 vintage is being described as a
Jason Yapp of Yapp Bros adds: “With
“I think people are pretty sanguine about
“According to a specialist Burgundy
customers, on finding out prices on the
perpetuates demand, regardless of price. “So we still sell all our allocation from Rousseau, Roumier, Coche-Dury and Lafon. Dauvissat Chablis is more sought-after
“classic”, which may be good news for those
buyer I know, the entry-level price for
than ever, as is Leflaive Puligny at every
– like Tom Innes, of Burgundy specialist
Burgundy is now £26 a bottle.”
level. Nearly every bottle of Côte de Nuits
Fingal-Rock – who were alarmed by the
on our list currently sells for three figures,
“super-ripe” reds that 2020 produced.
yet nothing is older than 2014.
“A very small harvest, pitiful quantities,
“Somewhere in the UK there is someone
some some extraordinary levels of alcohol,
wanting to buy an expensive Burgundy
and lots of colour – more like Rhône than
from our website at least weekly, and they
Burgundy,” was Innes’s take.
So there may be more typicity in the 2021 wines. But savage spring frosts contributed to another Burgundy shortfall and prices are only heading in one direction. Burgundy fans, it seems, should
Burgundy isn’t offering value for
Jason Yapp: “The difficulty is securing stock”
be braced for more disappointment. “We’ve seen the Burgundy market
or those who conclude that money, what are the alternatives?
Yapp Bros has been “sourcing some great Pinot Noir from other locations, like the
At Tanners, private sales director Robert
change dramatically in the last few years:
Boutflower believes that “the writing
It’s a part of the world that is also
prices have risen exponentially, and
has been on the wall for a decade that
performing well for Howard Ripley.
allocations have, for the most part, been
Burgundy is mostly poor value”.
drastically reduced, in some cases by over
So why does it have such enduring
80%,” says Sebastian Thomas, buyer for
appeal? “Because worldwide demand for
Howard Ripley Wines.
wine in general, and by extension top-
“The sought-after growers are pretty
end wine like Burgundy in particular,
immune to price hikes, but there is some
simply outstrips supply, so the trade has
price resistance at the less glamorous end.
continued to sell it,” he says.
However, diminished quantities mean that
“Top-end Burgundy is all about the
little is left unsold. How long that continues
growers and their reputations, much
– in a vintage like 2021 for instance, which
more so than most other regions, and new
is perceived as difficult – remains to be
money seems to come in when existing
customers drop out. Several historical
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 46
“The writing has been on the wall for a decade or more that Burgundy is mostly poor value … demand simply outstrips supply” Robert Boutflower, Tanners
Top left: A junction in the Côte d’Or Bottom left: Vineyards in the Pfalz
in the Pfalz, Lehnert-Veit on the Mosel, Braunewell in the Rheinhessen. “Quality is on the up, as you’d expect from the increasingly warm weather in these northern climes. But it is far from the only place, and we have had success with Land of Saints in California and Illahe in Oregon, as well as Rippon, Black Estate and Felton Road in New Zealand.” Even Patagonia is on Lea’s Pinot radar. The company has achieved “remarkable success” with the Chacra wines of Piero Incisa della Rochetta, “which far outstrips the volumes of all our German Pinot”. Boutflower at Tanners is hesitant about nominating viable Burgundy substitutes. “We’ve been here before,” he says, “with New Zealand and Oregon, let alone Germany and Romania. “It’s not helped by Pinot being inclined to change its style in other countries. “We’ve got a magnificent Slovakian entry. But they are all a bit of a hand-sell, a
Sebastian Thomas. “It’s not surprising
‘trust-the- merchant’ purchase, and come
offer” – including, in some cases, value for
assessment of the 2021s this autumn.
that our sales of the considerably cheaper
money. Indeed he argues that there are
“Some growers seem to be happy with
German wines have increased: in the last
“Bourgogne rouges which regularly trump
what they achieved,” says Charles Lea.
two years we have seen 75% growth in dry
the latest ‘exciting’ wines from elsewhere”.
“It’s always a bit of a mistake to pre-
“Climate change and greatly increased know-how mean that Germany consistently produces excellent reds and whites,” says
whites and reds. “German Pinot Noirs are filling the price gap left by Burgundy, and demand is particularly strong for them. As a result, we
harles Lea, director of Lea
with their own baggage. ‘Germany? Is that
& Sandeman, believes that
Liebfrau Pinot Noir, then?’”
“Burgundy still has a lot to
Even so, Lea & Sandeman is quite excited
Burgundy importers will make a proper
judge the quality level, even if we know
about some of the Pinots it is discovering
that quantitatively the 2021 harvest was
beyond Burgundy’s borders.
poor to disastrous for some. We look
“Yes, Germany is one place to look for
forward to our tastings in October and
have taken on four new growers this year,
value Pinot,” Lea says, “and we import
November when we will get a good look at
and will start with five more next year.”
several which have a following: Petri
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 47
The Belgian brewer Rodenbach, whose Grand Cru is beer-world royalty, is among the most celebrated users of foeders for lengthy maturation, which can in some cases stretch from months into years. The wood harbours natural yeasts that
Foeder for thought Wood-aged beers demand a slower approach from volume-hungry brewers
contribute to tartness, acidity and grip in the beer. Normally, a brewery will have one or two such giant barrels to ensure achieving the consistency of style that they are known for. But experimentation is very much the modern way, as we know, and New Belgium Brewing in Colorado is one that’s famed for its use of big oak outside of Belgium, its so-called “foeder forest” of differing barrel shapes and sizes each delivering its own subtle spin on the foeder style. The foeder is catching on in a small way among some of the UK’s best brewers. Sour beer specialist Burning Sky in Sussex, Manchester’s IPA evangelist Cloudwater and London hop variety explorer The Kernel have all deployed foeders to create some of their most enchanting brews that enhance and exaggerate their house styles.
The foeders at Rodenbach
Belgium’s De Ranke has
taken foeder use way out there
numerous variations on IPA are just some
colliding in a foeder on occasion. Belgium’s
of the beer styles that have been subject
Three Fonteinen brewery makes a beer
to next-big-thing speculation in recent
co-fermented with Dornfelder grapes in a
years, sometimes with justification, but
foeder as part of its extraordinary range of
here’s often an impatience in the
too, with an imperial porter – Back to Black
beer world to find the coming
– that’s spent nine months in oak.
major trend. Saison, goze and
The worlds of beer and wine are also
However, some beer styles should
In addition to the barrel infrastructure,
demand attention not because they’re
foeder beers require a commitment
about to change the brewing landscape,
to time, setting product aside for sale
but because of their inherent mystery and
months and years down the line, a given
magic. It would be wrong to pretend that
in wine and whisky but alien to much of
foeder beers are going to transform the
the brewing world, where a culture of
market any time soon, but they’re worth celebrating just because of what they are. A foeder (from the Dutch, and sometimes seen as foudre in its French variation) is essentially a large oak barrel, of up to 600 litres, the construction of which is a particular specialism of certain cooperages.
The wood harbours natural yeasts that contribute to tartness, acidity and grip in the beer THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 48
churning out volume for short-term sale gains takes precedence. And with a certain unpredictability about the outcome, using foeders is an inhibiting leap of faith for all but the bravest in the industry. But for those that do take the brave step – and their drinkers – it’s a patience that brings rich rewards.
THE WINEMAKER FILES //
Martta Reis Simões
Quinta da Alorna, Tejo wine region I have always been involved with the vineyard, being the granddaughter of farmers. Every year I participated in the harvest at home. Later on, my father became especially interested in wine and opened a wine store. Wine was always a constant presence. At this stage, when I was 16 years old, I began to find the whole world of wine fascinating and two years later I started my oenology degree. I am not from the Tejo region. I came to Quinta da Alorna at the invitation of the winemaker and general director at the time, Nuno Cancela de Abreu. We had worked together in Bucelas in the Lisboa region, years before. When the opportunity arose to join the Quinta da Alorna team, I immediately accepted. Quinta da Alorna stands out, not only for the quality of the wines it produces at the estate, but also for its agricultural, forest and natural spaces. The estate is located on the south bank of the Tagus River, near Santarém, with the entrance marked by one of the world’s rare trees, known as Bela Sombra [“beautiful shade” in Portuguese]. We have a total area of 2,600 hectares, divided into 160 hectares of vineyards, 500 hectares dedicated to agricultural crops and about 1,900 hectares of forest. This forest area also helps to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. In addition, there are currently six photovoltaic power plants on our property.
I don’t have favourite grape varieties, but if I have to name a few, among the white ones, Fernão Pires, Arinto and Sauvignon Blanc; for the reds, Castelão, Tinta Miúda and Touriga Franca. There are two words to describe the Alorna winemaking style: fresh and elegant. We have always looked at oak as a complement, to enhance the primary aromas of the wine. So the choice of suppliers of barrels, the different types of oak and toasts, has always been very precise. Tejo has definitely seen changes in the past decade. There has been remarkable joint work done by the CVR Tejo and its producers, very focused on promotion and marketing at a national and international level. The Fernão Pires grape variety, for example, has once again been given some limelight in the wine world thanks to an ongoing campaign in recent years. Tejo in the last 10 years has improved quite a lot. People understand how to make good wines and how to present them in the market. They have to understand what the market is looking for but the wines also have to have character. The Tagus is the great dominating element of the region, starting with three distinct types of soils. Then the climate: the river manages to moderate the temperature. The days are hot but the nights are cool.
Sitting majestically in the Tejo region, Quinta da Alorna has a wide array of vineyards which are worked in a sustainable and socially responsible way, looking after both the land and the workers. Chief winemaker Martta was named as the best young winemaker of Portugal in 2012. Wines imported by Alliance Wine
At Quinta da Alorna we have vineyards in two of these soil types. For example in the Charneca, where we have the largest area of vines, there are very poor soils, with lots of sand and pebbles. The wines have a unique freshness and elegance.
Quinta da Alorna Reserva Arinto & Chardonnay
Marquesa de Alorna Grande Reserva White
Quinta da Alorna Touriga Nacional Red
This wine is a classic from Quinta da Alorna. The blend of Arinto, a Portuguese grape variety, and Chardonnay has been a winning bet for over 20 years. The two varieties complement each other perfectly.
Marquesa de Alorna is the product of unique weather conditions and a selection of the best grapes. Six varieties gave rise to this 2017 vintage, coming from different terroirs, between Charneca and Lezíria. This wine is a tribute to a very important woman in the history of Portugal.
Made exclusively from Touriga Nacional, a Portuguese variety with a distinctive and unique aromatic profile, this wine represents the elegance and freshness of the Charneca.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 49
Barnaby Eales believes independents should take a fresh look at a country where the winemaking scene is changing
Eastern promise How demand is slowly building for Turkish wines
he popularity of Turkish
bottles of Turkish wine of 35% to 40%,
restaurants in the UK has given the
outstripping any other wines on its shelves.
country’s wines plenty of on-trade
Specialist Turkish wine importers
exposure, but they remain pretty much
Winehouse Warwick and Taste Turkey
invisible in the independent off-trade.
both talk about increased demand among
Yet Turkey’s dazzling plethora of
the trade and consumers, with interest
indigenous grape varieties and styles offers
sparked both by holidays in Turkey and
plenty of opportunity for indies looking to
dining experiences in restaurants in the
build difference into their ranges.
The aromatic profile of the white grape
This year has already seen the arrival
Narince and Pinot Noir-esque Kalecik
of one new Turkish wine specialist on the
Karasi both make for food-friendly
retail landscape, with the coffee/wine
shop Dharma Coffee opening in Hove
There’s joy to be found in blends too. The
and Richmond, west London. It is hosting
vibrant and fleshy Büyülübağ Vedat Millor
Turkish wine tastings and has plans to sell
2018, imported by Gama UK, brings the
structured, bold tannins of the Bogazkere
On a visit to Winehouse Warwick, I
grape together with the soft fruitiness of
tasted new wine releases from Chamlija,
including Turkey’s first Assyrtiko, an
Bath-based Novel Wines reports interest in producers such as Kayra and Chamlija, with by-the-glass sales playing
outstanding wine with lush, bright flavours of lime, cucumber, and a river-long finish. Turkish reds were once viewed as
an important part in converting customers.
indulgently-oaky, to suit the domestic
Novel quotes repeat purchase rates on
market, but Chamlija’s Marcel Biron
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 50
Below: Late afternoon in Istanbul
Left: Pruning at Kavaklidere Below: Street coffee in Istanbul
2020 is far from that, its perfumed spice
and, often, wild yeasts, to make softer
of product, but in difficult times there
and silky tannins a characteristic of the
wines. When making fresh and fruity white
are plenty of obstacles for it overcome if
indigenous grape variety Papazkarasi,
wines from native grapes, Törüner abstains
we’re to see more Turkish wine in the UK
which the producer has reintroduced to
from using oak to allow the flavours and
the hills around Thrace in the west of the
aromatic profile to shine.
country, where it planted vines in 2010. “I have waited 10 years to get this quality,” says owner Mustafa Camlica.
Chamlija’s winemaker Selin Özdemir
Government support for exporters is thin. Having hit producers with a ban
Baran is one of several women winemakers
on alcohol promotion and advertising in
making fine wines from specific plots of
2013, it piled on a near 50% increase in a
Alp Törüner, owner of Büyülübağ, has
vines found at high altitudes across the
“special alcohol consumption” tax this year.
been making wine on the island of Avsa in
diverse, mountainous regions of Turkey.
VAT and excise duty are already high and
the Marmara Sea, off Istanbul, since 2005. For reds, like the island’s native
Turkish winemaking in general is becoming more geared to suit the palates
inflation hit 61% in March. A 44% fall in the value of the lira against
Ada Karasi variety, Törüner uses slow
of contemporary, international drinkers,
the dollar hasn’t translated into a big
maceration, gentle extraction, no enzymes
with American, French, and Italian
increase in exports, as producers often
consultants playing a part in viticulture
trade in other currencies.
Turkish winemaking is becoming more geared to suit the palates of contemporary, international drinkers, with American, French, and Italian consultants playing a part
Smaller, quality wineries have emerged
With no public aid to promote wines, Turkish producers are at a disadvantage
and the big guns of Doluca and Kavaklidere
against those from, say, Greece or Georgia,
have developed their own ranges around
whose government offers substantial
native grapes. Turkey has the fifth largest
support to export and promote wines.
vineyard area in the world and is thought
But that shouldn’t put off retailers
to be home to between 800 and 1,200
looking for unusual wines that already
have some on-trade traction from the
The country has a lot going for it in terms
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 51
Turkish restaurant boom.
MAKE A DATE
Vintage Roots Trade Tasting
Yapp Bros Autumn Tasting
Vintage Roots will be visiting London
The Wiltshire importer will be
and Bristol showcasing a selection of 80
showcasing 50 to 60 wines from its list.
organic, biodynamic and natural wines,
These include a combination of Yapp
including new finds for 2022. The company will also be showing a selection from the its festive offers. Two producers – Barone Pizzini (Franciacorta and Maremma) and Domaine Paul Mas (Languedoc) – will be in
call 0118 932 6566.
Around 50 wines from the region
classics from the likes of Jean-Louis Chave
will be on show, and a dozen visiting
and Domaine Graillot, and exciting new
winemakers will be leading an exclusive
wines from both the traditional French
heartlands and further afield. Contact Simon Stuart: simon@yapp. co.uk.
attendance. Register at email@example.com or
Languedoc Tour Trade & Press Tasting
There will be a mix of wines already available in the UK and others seeking representation. Highlights of the event include
Tuesday, September 27
interactive wine talks on the terroir and
The Groucho Club
sustainability of the Languedoc region and
London W1D 4QB
a photography exhibition by artist Georgia
Monday, September 26
London Canal Museum
For more details and to register, contact
12-13 New Wharf Road
London N1 9RT Monday, October 3 Tuesday, October 4
1 Park Village E
London NW1 7PX
Bristol BS4 3EH
Top Selection Portfolio Tasting A walk-around tasting of 150+ wines with a focus on the autumn and festive period. Top Selection will be launching three
Hallgarten & Novum Regional Tasting Along with more familiar wines
Moreno Wines Portfolio Tasting Moreno will be showcasing all its favourite producers along with the new agencies it has recently brought on board. Music, oysters and jamon will all play
new agencies: Maison Lavau (Rhône),
from the portfolio, the team will be
a role in the proceedings, the organisers
Domaine Mia (Burgundy) and Tenuta Di
showcasing some of their more recent
Sesta (Montalcino), with the winemakers
finds from around the winemaking
To register, email matt@topselection.
To register, contact sarah.charlwood@
Moreno, known for its Spanish Wines, is now part of the same group as Boutinot. To register, email sales@moreno-wines.
Tuesday, September 27
Monday, October 3
Tuesday, October 4
The Roundhouse Camden
2 Savoy Place
3 Thompsons Lane
Chalk Farm Road
London WC2R 0BL
Cambridge CB5 8AQ
London NW1 8EH
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 52
The Boscaini family: Alessandra, Sandro, Bruno, Mario, Giacomo, Raffaele and Anita
Masi’s 250th Anniversary Celebrations
Thorman Hunt Portfolio Tasting Following on from the London tasting
Grands Chais de France Private Wine Days
This event will be celebrating 250 years
at 67 Pall Mall, Thorman Hunt is going
GCF will be showcasing the best bits
since the first Boscaini grape harvest in
on the road with its autumn tastings to
from its entire portfolio in London, as
the Vajo de Masi vineyard.
Bristol and Manchester.
well as launching its on-trade Signature
The walk-around tasting will feature all
It will be introducing new agencies as
five Masi estates – Masi Agricola, Serego
well as showcasing a selection of seasonal
Alighieri, Canevel, Conti Bossi Fedrigotti
and Masi Tupungato – and will be a journey
from Masi’s roots in Valpolicella Classica,
Range of 22 top properties. Other highlights will include awardwinning properties in Chile, Spain, Germany and Hungary. A crémant from every French producing
across the Veneto, to its pioneering,
Tuesday, September 27
region will be on show, as well as a range
organically-run estate in Argentina.
Paintworks Event Space
of zero alcohol wines and spirits. GCF’s
winemakers will be present, to shine a light
Bristol BS4 3EH
on their respective regions of France.
Tuesday, October 4
Tuesday, October 4
Tuesday & Wednesday, October 4 & 5
19-23 Charlotte Street
11 Cooper Street
10 York Road
London W1T 1RL
Manchester M2 2FW
London SE1 7ND
To register, contact Elisa Pierato: elisa.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 53
MAKE A DATE
Rías Baixas Showcase & Masterclass This is a chance to taste a spectrum of styles from the region, from classic Atlantic-influenced Albariño to leesaged whites, blends, traditional-method sparkling wines and some rare Galician reds. The Art of Ageing masterclass will be led by Sarah Jane Evans MW. For further details and to register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday, October 10 The Great Hall One Great George Street London SW1P 3AA
Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés Tasting A number of the region’s châteaux will
Albariño grapes growing on a pergola in Rías Baixas
be presenting wines from a selection of recent vintages. They include Château Branaire-Ducru, Château Canon, Château Canon La Gaffelière, Château Gazin, Château Guiraud, Château Léoville Poyferré, Château Montrose, Château Pontet-Canet, Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Smith Haut
Beaujolais Colours Trade & Press Tasting
Lafitte. For further information contact celine@ otaria.co.uk. Tuesday, October 11 Church House
This is an opportunity to discover or rediscover the region in a walk-around tasting and through three masterclasses hosted by Victoria Daskal, Anne McHale MW and Emily Harman. To register contact mbourgeois@sopexa.
More than 100 Beaujolais wines will be
featured at this tasting and producers will be on hand to talk about the fruits
Thursday, October 13
of their labours.
Town Hall Hotel
There will be a mix of wines that are
8 Patriot Square
already imported and some that are
London SW1P 3NZ
looking for representation.
London E2 9NF
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 54
Sud de France Top 100 Discovery Tasting An event to bring together the new lineup of the 100 winning wines from the 10th edition of the Sud de France Top 100. Visiting producers, including
Adelsheim Vineyard, Domaine Serene and
38-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London WC2A 3PE
Oregon Wine Board Tasting Oregon is a world-class wine region with over 900 wineries and more than
independent boutique wineries as well as
1,000 vineyards growing 72 grape
acclaimed negociants and cooperatives,
will be on hand and there will be an extra
To register, email owb@wearelotus. co.uk.
Yet 70% of these wineries produce fewer
Monday, October 24 US Embassy 33 Nine Elms Lane London SW11 7US
Taste Napa Valley Napa Valley Vintners will be showcasing
100 cuvées covering the whole of the
than 5,000 cases of wine annually. So the
a number of wines in London and
Occitanie region available to taste. This
message is very much small production,
year, 60% of the selection is seeking UK
high quality and big impact.
distribution, while the rest is available within the UK. For more information and to register, email Sebastien du Boullay: sebastien. email@example.com. Tuesday, October 18
At this tasting there will be
For more information and an invitation, contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.
representatives from more than 25 Oregon wineries pouring more than 75 different
Monday, October 24
London (venue TBC)
Wineries represented will include Citation, Chateau Bianca, Three Feathers,
Wednesday, October 26
Stoller Family Estate, Solena Estate,
Edinburgh (venue TBC)
Vines in Oregon’s autumn sun
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 55
The Vindependents tasting takes place on March 21
n Sunday they closed the whole
wee prance, but the customers kept coming
of the Great Western Road to cars
in almost as if they didn’t need to drive in their comfortable little boxes to get here,
and we had a Picnic Lunch in the
middle of the lumpen road outside the
although thanks, customers, for navigating
shop, because obviously no cars meant no
the endlessly unhelpful, expensive and
entirely impractical public transport
We had a fennel salami that Jordan had cut up all nice from the Hippy Shop, a delicious razorsharp baguette from Rottencake, a perfect bit of Brie de Meaux all mouldcrust and teeth-buzzing yellow, and Jordan said “isn’t cheese the best?” and I nodded, my entire head singing and reeling from the throb of a sensation like stopping falling upstairs. There were perfect Scottish Strawberries that weren’t half rotten gifted to us which we ate greedily, the juice rolling down our
22. RECLAIMING THE STREET What would life be like without cars? Would nature heal and might citizens tap into a serene, strawberry-scented higher plane of wisdom? Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow is about to find out
“system” that feels like Glasgow City Council is, how do you say, having a laugh. No we won’t open the subway after six on a Sunday because you should not be going anywhere at that time on the Sabbath – this is Scotland. What a relief it was to not have the endless line of traffic sitting there, burning old silty plankton right outside the front of the shop, frustrated by their inability to move but not frustrated enough to get out of their cars, demand better public transport or balance on two wheels to get them from a thing to a thing or to
young chins and all over our fingers before
buy a thing or to see a thing.
miraculously disappearing, leaving us
somehow we were also in shade and the
unsticky and satisfied as if we had had a
tarmac gave way to warm white sand
At first, the human beings couldn’t
magical shower with no wetness.
dryly dribbling through my toes. I said
really handle the new-found emptiness
something wise and true and hilarious and
of the road but rather kept to the narrow
The sun beat down on the road but
Jordan laughed with doe-eyed
path between Eddie (who has dropped
appreciation at my wiseness
the “godblessya” from his dirge, leaving
and trueness. We drank demi-
an awkward but welcome empty moment
sec Champagne, which lifted
after his request for change) and the
our spirits and relaxed our
Hippies’ extensive fruit and vegetable
bellies and necks but did not
display. Later, humans were spotted
inebriate us one whit. The
tentatively toeing the Car Domain and
afternoon passed gently, with
exploring the elemental crags of its
a soft breeze generated by
surface. But it was too late. One tanky
multiple and varied butterflies
smokedwindow 4x4 broke the rules,
and kingfishers and bigger-
screamed down the road and the spell was
than-average bumblebees that
beat their wings kindly to cool
Vineyards in the Hunter Valley
Maybe there is a bright new future where
our warm but not overheated
everyone stops atomising themselves in
the comfort of their leased cars, where
No, wait, that’s not true. On
unarmoured humans could amble, prance
Sunday they closed the whole
and just enjoy being for a little while – not
of the Great Western Road to
rushing to somewhere or from somewhere,
cars and we thought about
just enjoying being. It might even be one
having a picnic in the middle of
where Jordan likes cheese, but maybe that
the road and even managed a
is a dream too far.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 56
Frio white wine decanter with ice bowl By filling the detachable bowl with ice before placing the decanter on top, the wine will be gently chilled while aerating. Not just for white wines either: a little warm water can be
SPICED RUM SIDECAR
added to the bowl to help reds reach their ideal serve temperature. Water or ice aside, there’s nothing to stop you adding fairy lights instead. Waitersfriend.com £65
Magnum gift boxes This 100% recyclable magnum gift box is new to the market from WBC. With a textured finish and luxury envelope closure, it will keep wines and Champagnes safe and secure with premium strong card and a featured
The Sidecar is a much underrated and under-made classic that’s most usually associated with Cognac. But, as we head into autumn, this variation deploys an altogether hipper spirit. The myriad rums on the market allow ample room for experimentation to try to find the perfect base, while the spice elements nod towards forthcoming Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations.
5cl spiced rum 2.5cl Cointreau/triple sec 2.5cl freshly squeezed lemon juice Caster sugar Wedge of lemon
bottleneck holder. Maximise its full gifting and e-commerce potential by pairing it with shredded paper and the recommended shipping outer to keep it safe in transit. Starting at £2 excluding VAT, magnum gift boxes are available in black or cranberry and can also be printed on for corporate gifting or customised randing. WBC’s full range of off-the-shelf protective packaging, wine boxes for bottles is in stock now and available for next-day delivery. wbc.co.uk
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 57
Spread the caster sugar on a saucer. Rub the lemon around the rim of the glass and dip the glass in the sugar to make a coating on the lip. Put the rum, triple sec and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with another lemon wedge.
condor wines Henge Court Thame OX9 2FX 07508 825 488 email@example.com www.condorwines.co.uk Condor_Wines Condor.Wines condor_wines Condor Wines
richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 firstname.lastname@example.org
RWA invites you to our Autumn Portfolio Tasting in Bristol Date: Tuesday 27th September 2022 Time: 10am to 4pm Venue: The Airstream | Main Courtyard | Paintworks Event Space | Bath Road | Bristol | BS4 3EH Please RSVP to email@example.com and we very much hope to meet you there!
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 58
LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES
Introducing Smith & Sheth The brainchild of Steve Smith MW and Brian Sheth, Smith & Sheth is a contemporary negociant. Both partners share a love of wine and an affiliation to New
12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ
Zealand, and their aim is to create something truly exceptional, selecting only the best fruit from differing terroirs in Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay, pictured) and Marlborough. Some highlights:
0207 409 7276 firstname.lastname@example.org www.louislatour.co.uk
Cru Wairau Sauvignon Blanc. An old-vine Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from Marlborough’s gravelly Wairau vineyards, along with fruit from the cooler clay soils of the southern valley hillsides. Aromas of lime and passionfruit; a refreshing salty acidity. Cru Heretaunga Albariño. An Albariño from Howell Vineyard, located on the southern borders of the warm Bridge Pa appellation which features stony red tinged soils, infused with calcium, fed by a natural stream flowing through limestone hills nearby. Notes of peaches, salty air, and honeysuckle. A great accompaniment to seafood. Cru Heretaunga Syrah. An expression of two sites: Mangatahi, offering cool-climate fruit, and Omahu, adjacent to the Gimblett Gravels, giving exceptional ripeness to red grapes. Naturally balanced, with juicy raspberries, black pepper, and a touch of anise. Steve Smith MW will be in the UK this October.
hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 email@example.com www.hatchmansfield.com
Please join us f r Hatch Mansfield Autumn Tasting
Tuesday 20th September 2022 at the Tower of London 10am to 6pm
Please register soon because space is limited firstname.lastname@example.org STRICTLY TRADE AND PRESS ONLY
THETHE WINEWINE MERCHANT MERCHANT september june 20222022 59
gonzalez byass uk
Gold Medal winning Chardonnay
The Dutch Barn Woodcock Hill Coopers Green Lane St Albans AL4 9HJ
Whitehall Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards 2022 Gold medal 95 points An opulent nose shows tart tatin, caramelized apples, and crème brûlée.
01707 274790 email@example.com www.gonzalezbyassuk.com
International Wine Challenge 2022 South African Chardonnay Trophy & Gold medal 96 points Pure, intense and refined Chardonnay that wouldn’t look out of place in the Cote de Beaune. Nuanced oak with patisserie and citrus peel flavours with lovely definition supported by chiseled acidity.
VIEW OUR DIGITAL PRODUCT CATALOGUE ON YOUR PHONE
vintner systems The computer system for drinks trade wholesalers and importers 16 Station Road Chesham Bucks HP5 1DH firstname.lastname@example.org www.vintner.co.uk
Vintner Systems has been supplying specialist software solutions to the wine and spirit trade in the UK and Ireland for over 30 years. After 300 installations at a wide range of business types, we have developed the ultimate package to cover everything from stock control and accountancy to EPOS, customer reserves, brokering and en-primeur. Whether you are a specialist wine retailer, importer or fine wine investment company, our software will provide you with the means to drive your business forward.
THETHEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANTseptember march 2022 2022 60
jeroboams trade 7-9 Elliott's Place London N1 8HX 020 7288 8888 email@example.com www.jeroboamstrade.co.uk
hallgarten wines Mulberry House Parkland Square 750 Capability Green Luton LU1 3LU 01582 722 538 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hnwines.co.uk @hnwines
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 61
New wines from McLaren Vale and Chianti Classico – and our first from Georgia
020 7720 5350
We are excited to welcome three new additions to our list this month.
important wine region – near the eastern border with Azerbaijan. Made
Bedoba (meaning “Day of Luck”) hails from Kakheti – Georgia’s most by winemakers Nugzar Ksovreli and Thierry Fontannaz from Saperavi – a teinturier grape and Georgia’s signature red variety – fermented in a combination of stainless-steel tanks and traditional clay qvevri vessels then
aged in used American oak barrels and 5,000-litre wooden vats, the wine is savoury and spicy with fresh acidity, soft tannins and a seamless texture. MMAD is a new venture from (and acronym of) Shaw + Smith’s Martin Shaw and Michael Hill-Smith MW, winemaker Adam Wadewitz and David LeMire MW, who in early 2021 bought an existing site in the sought-after, high-altitude Blewitt Springs area of McLaren Vale, attracted by the old vine Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Grenache. Strikingly perfumed and structured, their debut releases illustrate this vineyard’s great potential. The Dievole estate in Chianti Classico has ancient origins, with records of its name – from “Dio Vuole” or “God willing” – dating back to 1090. Its purchase in 2012 by Alejandro Bulgheroni started the renovation and organic certification (from the 2017 vintage) of over 150 hectares of vineyards. Made by Luigi Temperini with the support of Alberto Antonini, the wines include a rich and complex Trebbiano and “Vigna di Sessina” – the best selection of Sangiovese from this outstanding, fossil-rich site.
The Wine Merchant Magazine Essential Oil ... is not yet available. While we work on that, the only way to experience the heady, just-printed aroma of your favourite trade magazine is to get your own copy, and breathe it in while it’s fresh. If you don’t qualify for a free copy, you can subscribe for just £75 a year within the UK. Email email@example.com for details. Or you can read every issue online, as a flippable PDF – just visit winemerchantmag.com. There’s no registration, and no fee. And, sadly, no aroma.
THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 2021 62
BERKMANN wine cellars 104d St John Street London EC1M 4EH 020 7609 4711 firstname.lastname@example.org www.berkmann.co.uk @berkmannwine @berkmann_wine
The wine of kings and king of wines Louis XIV described Tokaj as ‘the wine of kings and king of wines’ when he tasted it. In 1630 the greatness of the Oremus vineyard was first recorded and today it enjoys the highest universal recognition. The Álvarez family, of Vega Sicilia fame, founded Tokaj-Oremus in 1993. The estate is based in Tolcsva, where a modern winery was connected to the maze of cellars which have been found there since the 13th century. To find out more about our range of dry and sweet Tokaj from Oremus, get in touch with your Berkmann account manager now or email email@example.com
buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk
Founded in 1796, Finca Casa Lo Alto is a 160ha estate based in Utiel-Requena and is one of the oldest wine producers in the area. The estate is surrounded by almond groves and pine trees and is blessed with an exceptional terroir. The Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for growing Bobal, Garnacha and the native white variety Tardana. Casa lo Alto winemaker Victor Marqués is an advocate of minimal intervention, which gives his wines their unique character.
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Fells Fells House, Station Road Kings Langley WD4 8LH 01442 870 900 For more details about these wines and other wines from our awardwinning portfolio from some of the world’s leading wine producing families contact: email@example.com
top selection 23 Cellini Street London SW8 2LF www.topselection.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Alastair Moss Telephone: 020 3958 0744 @topselectionwines @tswine
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mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 email@example.com www.mentzendorff.co.uk
Hailing from the Alentejo region of Portugal, the Geno Branco and Geno Tinto are made by the Cartuxa winery exclusively for distribution by Mentzendorff in the UK. The name Geno is derived from an old dialectal term for a young farmer, who is depicted on the eye-catching label designed by artist, Antonio Palolo, whilst the wines themselves are deliciously fresh and approachable. “I still cannot quite believe the value offered by this stunningly rewarding wine...The colourful label gives you an idea of the open, refreshing flavours in this engaging red.” “The white counterpart to the red Cartuxa, this is a glorious slice of Alentejo sunshine and stunning local flair. Juicy, ripe and mildly exotic, it also has crisp acidity and masses of charm.” Matthew Jukes, Daily Mail Weekend, November 2021
For more information, please contact your Mentzendorff Account Manager
AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abs.wine
Gary & Kathy Jordan of Jordan Estate, Stellenbosch, also have a home in the UK, where they have produced and launched their very own gin. Mousehall Sussex Dry Gin is Mousehall's signature gin. The botanicals are distilled in a traditional 400L Copper Pot Still at the historical and medieval Mousehall Country Estate in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Mousehall Sussex Dry Gin is made sustainably and handcrafted by the Jordan family, with daughter Christy at the helm, in their Distillery & Winery at Mousehall Country Estate. This classically London Dry style gin is produced from both grape and grain neutral spirit together with 13 different botanicals to create a perfectly balanced Juniper-forward Gin. Hints of fresh citrus, cardamom and a special South African ingredient, Rooibos (Redbush tea) adding a floral element to this refreshing and zesty gin. For further information contact your Account Manager
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walker & Wodehouse
Congratulations to Xanadu Huge congrats to chief winemaker Glenn Goodall at Xanadu wines on being named
109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 email@example.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com
as 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year. Over the years, Glenn and his team have racked up an impressive 339 gold medals and 127 trophies across various wine shows. Founded in 1977 by Irishman Dr John Lagan, Xanadu is a true pioneer of the West Australian wine region of Margaret River. With a rich history of producing wines of uncompromising quality, Xanadu wines are renowned for their distinct character that embody all that is Margaret River.
climate and gravel sandy loam soils deliver ideal conditions enabling
Cabernet to flourish. These varieties, alongside Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, are the primary focus at Xanadu.
Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France firstname.lastname@example.org 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich
DATE LONDON 2022 JOIN US:
THE ULTIMATE PORTFOLIO EVENT
October 4th & 5th 2022 You are invited to GCF’s Private Wine Days – The Ultimate Portfolio Event For the first time, Les Grands Chais de France will be showcasing the best bits from its entire portfolio in London, as well as launching its on-trade Signature Range of 22 top properties selected for wine making excellence. Other highlights will include: new international award-winning properties in Chile, Spain, Germany and Hungary, Calvet the UK’s no 1 pan-appellation French brand, Crémant from every French producing region, a range of zero % wines and spirits and much, much more… …if you thought you knew GCF, think again, a lot has changed and it’s time to take a new look…
10:00am to 5:00pm on both days 16th Floor, 10 York Road, London 16th Floor 10 York Road, London SE1 7ND
They’re all smiles to your face …
STRIC TLY TR ADE & P RESS ON LY
To register: https://gcfprivatewinedaysoctober2022.eventbrite.co.uk
Waterloo car park - Waterloo (1-minute walk) - Embankment (10-minute walk) - Charing Cross (10-minute walk)
« PEOPLE, TERROIRS, PASSION »
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Q&A “Aged 14, a glass of Vega Sicilia captured my heart” Abbi Moreno Flora Fine Wines, Maida Vale, London
tells a different story. I was born in Nottingham, but my love for Liverpool comes from their strength to fight for justice and their hate of our government and the newspapers protecting them. In Liverpool you still cannot buy The Sun. Good on ‘em, and they’re pretty good at football too. Who’s your favourite music artist? Oh, I have so many. Freddie Mercury, Nina Simone, Brother Man … Who’s your favourite wine writer? I struggle with this as I feel that honesty is lost in the wine industry. But if I had to pick one it would be Jancis Robinson. What’s your most treasured possession? Pictures of my mother, pre digital. She died two weeks after my 16th birthday and I miss her every day. She was an art historian at Leeds Uni and although I never knew her as a grown woman, I know she would have been proud of what I have done and how I have grown as a woman. She was an active feminist. In the early 80s she started an all-female photographic studio in Leeds to help young female artists have a space to work freely in an industry dominated by men, as the wine industry is. As women, we deal with misogyny every day of our lives, but little is done or said about this.
Abbi Moreno’s Spanish-born grandparents established the famous Moreno Wines business in 1968. She became managing director in 1997 and left shortly after the company was sold to Boutinot in 2016. She took over the original Moreno store in 2019, which is now a wine shop and tapas bar trading as Flora Fine Wines. What’s the first wine you remember drinking? Vega Sicilia 1968, with my grandparents at a birthday party. I was only 14, so just had a small glass, but it captured my heart. What job would you be doing if you weren’t in the wine trade? In the fashion industry. I worked for Katherine Hamnett in my early 20s and enjoyed the all-female environment, and Katherine’s desire to work with ethical
materials and not exploit workers. She was at the forefront of this movement. How do you relax? With a glass of good wine. What’s the best book you’ve read recently? On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It breaks down class barriers and looks at how we behave in different environments. Also I love Dorset. Give us a Netflix recommendation. Boyz. It’s morally twisted and it looks at superheroes and how they exploit their powers. Those that you think are good are rotten to the core. Do you have any sporting loyalties? Only to Liverpool FC. Strangely enough I am not a Londoner, although my accent
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What’s your proudest moment? Giving birth to my amazing sons. Dillon (pictured), my eldest, is 25 and after completing a history degree started working for me in the wine industry and fell in love. So after completing his WSET Level 3 and going to Kerala in India to teach English to local women, he joined me at Flora Fine Wines and manages the bar. Milo, my youngest, just turned 19, has finished a creative media course and is wondering what to do next. He helps us in the bar to earn some extra money washing up, but he’s not discovered the wonders of wine yet. Any hidden talents? Emotional intelligence. What’s your favourite place in the UK? Dorset by the coast. We used to go camping there every year, when the kids were little. We’re granting you three wishes. Go. My mother meets my kids. Speak fluent Spanish. Humans to care more about other humans and their surroundings.